Lockdown measures eased, but message on taking a dip in reservoirs is still clear

Date published: 20 May 2020

People are being warned by United Utilities and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service not to go swimming in reservoirs as the government eases lockdown measures allowing unlimited outdoor exercise.

Swimming in reservoirs is strictly not allowed due to the hidden dangers and risk of drowning. Despite these dangers, people jumping into reservoirs and other restricted inland waters is a problem that results in injuries and tragic deaths every year.

Even during the lockdown people have been spotted taking dips in reservoirs across Greater Manchester, with some people even turning up with inflatables.

Statistically most likely to venture in are teenagers, and Paula Steer from United Utilities said: “The government’s ease of lockdown restrictions is welcome news for many, however as a company, we fear this may lead to a surge in people visiting our reservoirs to go swimming, particularly children and young people.

“Deaths in reservoirs is a very real problem and despite our warnings, we continue to hear of the needless deaths of people, mainly teenagers, accidently drowning in open water. We may no longer need to stay home, but we definitely need to stay safe and out of reservoirs – especially with our emergency services and healthcare providers under such strain.”

Area Manager Paul Fearnhead from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “As always we advise people not to enter or swim in open water – if there is no lifeguard then it is not safe to swim. Too many people have lost their lives after getting into difficulties in water – even the strongest of swimmers suffer from Cold Water Shock and can find themselves caught up in objects hidden beneath the water’s surface. Please wait for leisure centres to re-open before you think about swimming.

“Also, as the weather is expected to warm up we want to remind people about staying safe if they are planning a visit to the countryside. We continue to plead with people not to start fires or have barbecues on the moors. These fires really can be devastating and we don’t want to see a repeat of the summer 2018 fires – which saw our firefighters, along with neighbouring services, engaged for several weeks.”

More information on reservoir safety can be found at:

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