A PIONEERING partnership of more than 30 organisations - including Barnsley Council - has come together to stress the dangers of open water swimming.
Alarming reports of tragic incidents and deaths have given rise to the group, the first of its kind, which will see a campaign spreading messages warning of submerged obstacles, urging people to read signs around bodies of water and stay near other people when swimming, and to avoid alcohol when doing so.
Barnsley has no safe open water in any of its parks, according to the council - which has partnered with emergency services, Yorkshire Water, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, the Environment Agency, Canal and River Trust, HM Coastguard, the RNLI, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and Outdoor Swimming Society.
People are urged to contact the fire service if they see someone in trouble in inland open water.
As well as dangers such as hidden currents, obstacles and machinery, cold water can cause shock leading to hyperventilation and increased drowning risk.
Coun Jim Andrews, cabinet spokesperson for public health, added: “None of the parks in our borough have open water which is safe to swim in.
“While the water may look inviting, there are many potential hazards posed by swimming in our waters, which can lead to serious accidents.
“I would urge our residents to swim in a controlled environment to keep themselves and others safe.”
If in doubt, said RLSS UK bosses, stay out.
“As tempting as it may be to go for a quick dip on a hot day, open water swimming can be dangerous even for the most experienced swimmers due to a multitude of hazards,” said charity director Lee Heard.
“If you’re at all unsure, the best advice is to stay out of the water or find a swimming area with lifeguards.”
A Stairfoot quarry - which has caused concern for councillors and residents after youngsters were found recklessly swimming during the hot weather - is set to be drained after the Environment Agency reportedly forced the owner’s hand.
The quarry, which is part of the sprawling former Yorkshire Brickworks, saw teenagers flock there when temperatures soared in June and July.
Hanson UK, the site’s owner, had agreed to install a steel fence around its perimeter and plant borders of hawthorn, brambles, blackberry and reeds around the water edge in a bid to keep swimmers away.
But the Chronicle understands that planning documents have been created to drain the site instead, with reported plans to implement two water tanks on a council-owned site near to Sandy Gate Lane to drain the water.
Ward councillors have also stressed to South Yorkshire Police that patrols around the quarry continue until September when children return to school - amid concerns over the deaths of two young people in Rotherham and Wakefield who drowned in open water.