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Staying safe around water this bank holiday

Posted on 26 August 2022

A mum whose hero son died saving the lives of two girls in open water has joined police and the fire service to issue a warning to young people and their parents.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and Nottinghamshire Police have joined forces to raise awareness of the dangers of entering the water at popular beauty spot Holme Pierrepont.

They say groups of young people are gathering, many being dropped off by their parents, with some entering the water and putting their lives at risk.

Nicola Jenkins’ 12-year-old son Owen died on Monday 10 July 2017, after going into Beeston Weir to help two girls who were in trouble in the water.

Nicola urged young people and their parents to listen to the advice of emergency services and avoid the heartbreak her family has been through.

“Parents who drop their children off here and in other places are putting their children in danger,” she said.

“They may think it is safe if young people are attending in groups but they need to think very carefully. These places are not supervised and that is probably why young people think they are so much fun.

“But it is not just about having fun, it is about being safe and staying alive ultimately.”

Almost half of accidental drownings happen in the warmer months and often involve people who take a spur-of-the-moment decision to enter the water.

Dangers posed by open water can include very cold temperatures, even in summer months, strong underwater currents and unexpected water depths.

Other hazards such as debris, weeds, pumps and mechanical equipment can also lurk beneath the surface.

District Manager at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, Femi Colton, said: “As well as the water being cold, you also never know what lies beneath the surface. Not only can the currents be strong; plants, reeds and rocks, as well as other objects like disbanded shopping trollies, can be found underneath the water which can cause injuries if you’re jumping in where you’re not supposed to.

“We ask that if you see someone struggling in water, you don’t follow them in. Call 999 immediately, know your exact location using What3Words and encourage the casualty to float.

“Please all have an enjoyable but safe bank holiday weekend.”

Inspector Rob Lawton, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “It is really important that people stay away from open water as we don’t want families to suffer the devastation of losing a loved one.

“Open water may look tempting on a hot day but it is often bitterly, surprisingly cold. This alone can lead people to experience medical emergencies or cause them to cramp up and immediately get into difficulties.”

For more information on the OWEN charity, set up by Nicola to promote water safety after the loss of her son, visit www.owen7.org.uk