Fire Service warns of dangers of open water following tragic death of young man in Crosby

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is warning of the dangers of open water following the tragic death of a young man in Crosby.

Fire crews were called to Crosby beach at around 7.24pm on Tuesday 20th July following reports that five people were in difficulty in the water. Two fire engines, the search and rescue team and the rescue boat, Marine Fire One, were sent to the scene.

Crews assisted the RNLI and Coastguard with recovering the people from the water to the beach. Two people did not require medical assistance but three others were taken to hospital. Sadly, one of those people has died. A second remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition and a third has been discharged.

There have been 12 confirmed water-related fatalities in the last four days across the country, with searches continuing for four other missing people in water. Five people remain in hospital as a result of open water-related incidents.

MFRS is working with partner agencies including the RNLI, Coastguard, RLSS, Merseyside Police and local authorities to warn of the dangers of open water.

Following this latest tragic incident, MFRS Area Manager Gary Oakford, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends following the tragic death of a young man this week on Crosby beach.

“Sadly, this is the latest in a large number of water-related fatalities across the country during this period of hot weather. We would urge people to make sure they are aware of the dangers of open water, particularly when carrying out activities in and around open water.

“We know that around 50% of people who drown in the UK were taking part in normal everyday activities near water at the time, with many having no intention of entering the water.

 “Open water swimming is very different to swimming in a pool and is much more dangerous. Even at this time of year when temperatures are warm, the water is often a lot colder than you expect and can affect your ability to swim and sudden immersion can lead to cold water shock. There are also hidden currents that can quickly lead to difficulty for even the strongest swimmers.”

Whilst Tuesday’s incident occurred on a beach, MFRS is also urging people to #BeWaterAware when visiting canals, lakes, rivers and dams.

AM Oakford added: “It can be difficult to judge the depth of open water and steep sides and banks can make it difficult to get out. There are also hidden dangers beneath the surface of the water, including debris which can not only cause serious injury but could potentially cause entrapment. Open water is also often untreated and contains contaminants that can make you extremely ill.”

Tips for staying safe near open water:

  • Be aware and take notice of any warning signs
  • The water is cold – even on very warm days. Sudden immersion can lead to cold water shock, which can cause gasping and intake of water. Stay clear of the edge when walking or running near water.
  • River banks and cliff edges may be unstable and give way, particularly after bad weather
  • Depth can be difficult to estimate
  • You can get in, but can you get out? People often get into difficulty with steep sides and slimy banks
  • Debris under the water such as shopping trolleys, broken glass and cans can cause serious injury and trap you
  • The water is untreated and can make you ill
  • There may be hidden currents
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when carrying out activities in our near water.
  • Going to the beach? We advise you to go to a beach with a lifeguard. Be aware of which flag is flying as this will warn you of any dangers. Red and yellow flags means lifeguards are on patrol.
  • If you or someone else gets into trouble, dial 999 and ask for the Fire & Rescue Service if inland or Coastguard if near the coast.
  • Do not enter the water yourself – you could also get into difficulty. Look for something that floats or that they could hold onto and throw it to them.
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, or get into difficulty, fight your instinct to thrash around. Instead, lead back, extend your arms and legs and float.