Public Invited To Watch Water Rescue Exercise At Pontefract Park

The Wakefield district is supporting the national Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Week which starts on Monday (April 13).

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) hope to raise awareness through a number of water rescue exercises happening in different districts.

In Wakefield crews have joined forces with Wakefield Council to host ‘Exercise Windswept’ at Pontefract Park on Wednesday, April 15, which the public are invited to watch and pick up some top safety tips.

The exercise, at 10am, will also be supported by Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s HART Team and West Yorkshire Police.

It will involve our water rescue experts saving two ‘casualties’ from the island on the lake as well as demonstrating the rescue of two more ‘casualties’ in the water using an extending pole, inflatable hose and a throw line.

In the last five financial years, WYFRS crews have carried out 28 water rescues in the Wakefield District – two of which sadly resulted in fatalities.

For comparison, in the same period there have been five fire-related fatalities in the Wakefield district.

District Prevention Manager for Wakefield, Mussarat Suleman, said: “Whilst reservoirs, lakes and rivers may look safe and inviting, there are many hidden dangers below the surface that could injure you or make you ill.

“With the onset of warmer weather and lighter evenings all we ask is that you consider the dangers of open water around the numerous waterways in the Wakefield District.

“Simple steps such as taking notice of the signs and symbols near waterways can make a difference; they are there for your own safety!

“Ensure you let someone know where you are going and most importantly be aware of what to do in an emergency. It’s also important that youngsters are reminded about the dangers of open water and summer safety before the school holidays hit.”

Another purpose of the exercise is for Wakefield Council to ensure appropriate signage is visible at the correct locations.

Neil Favager, Emergency planning manager at Wakefield Council said: “It is very important as the weather warms up that children and adults are aware of how to stay safe in and around water.

“This exercise is also important for testing out procedures and making sure that safety signs are clear and visible to people using parks and countryside areas with ponds and lakes, in our district.”

Leaflets raising awareness of water safety will be handed out by crews to the public, who will also have the opportunity to be talked through the water rescue equipment.

The Water Safety Code

The dangers of water include:

  • Hidden currents – they can drag you under the water
  • Water can be deep and difficult to estimate depth
  • A river or open water is much more dangerous than a pool
  • Cold water shock – low water temperature can numb limbs and claim lives
  • Open water can be polluted and may make you ill
  • You may not be able to see what’s under the water; large rocks, dead branches, trolleys, all of which could injure you
  • It can be difficult to get out (steep slimy banks)

Safety advice:

  • Take notice of safety advice – special flags and notices may warn you of danger
  • Go together – children should always be accompanied by an adult
  • Avoid river banks and open water when under the influence of alcohol
  • Know what to do in an emergency – if you see someone in difficulty, tell a Lifeguard if there is one nearby or immediately dial 999 from the nearest telephone
  • Look for any buoyancy aid you may be able to throw out – waterways often have Lifeguard rings on the bankside