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Dales water safety partnership wins national recognition

[Monday 14 May 2007]
Fictional scenario highlights water danger
Dales water safety DVD earns accolade

A hard-hitting campaign pioneered by a partnership between Yorkshire Water, the emergency services and the Hambleton Community Safety Partnership has won both national and regional recognition.

The tragic deaths of two young men from Teesside at Cod Beck Reservoir near Osmotherley in the northern Yorkshire Dales inspired the company to join forces with the police, fire and ambulance services as well as the Hambleton district authority to examine ways of highlighting the risks of swimming in open water.

Extra signs, leaflets and even information days followed the first drowning in 2004, but when a second death followed less than 12 months later, a more direct approach was agreed to force home the message that cold water kills.

Young actors from the North Yorkshire-based Three Tequilas Drama Group helped with the filming of an uncompromising reconstruction of a sunny day which leads to tragedy, filmed at Cod Beck with the backing of both bereaved families.

The DVD - entitled Dying To Be Cool - has since been shown to groups of teenagers at schools across North Yorkshire and has won accolades from Water UK, which represents the water industry in the media and in Government: "We were impressed by the quality of the DVD which pulls no punches," said the organisation's chairman Richard Ackroyd.

"It's quite difficult to reach young adults who are often full of bravado or resistance to authority - but we've been told the film has silenced rooms full of teenagers and, having seen it, it's easy to see why."

Meanwhile, the film has been incorporated into Leeds City Council's Wise Up To Water Campaign and High School Project through which all Leeds high schools will have an opportunity to take part in a water safety workshop which will include a showing of Dying To Be Cool.

The film will also be shown in the city's Millennium Square this summer in an effort to educate youngsters about the dangers of swimming in reservoirs or other stretches of open water.

Hambleton Community Safety Partnership chairman, Rosemary Taylor, said Water UK's recognition was an important step forward for the project.

"We know this film is a good way of educating young people on the dangers of swimming in open water," she said. "To have the endorsement of Water UK is a testament to the hard work put in to create it and our determination to prevent any more tragic deaths."

Dying To Be Cool is a graphic illustration of how quickly the body's nervous system can close down when exposed to cold water

Geoff Lomas - Yorkshire Water

Yorkshire Water's Geoff Lomas emphasised the public are welcome at more than 100 reservoirs owned by Yorkshire Water - but are strongly advised against swimming in them:

"Aside from the risks posed by the water temperature, underwater obstacles can also catch out the unwary while strong undercurrents are created when water is drawn from a reservoir to feed the drinking water supply.

"It may look placid on a hot sunny day but open water is potentially lethal; in fact, only car accidents claim more young lives every year.

"Dying To Be Cool is a graphic illustration of how quickly the body's nervous system can close down when exposed to cold water - and how little the emergency services can do to help once a swimmer has been underwater for no more than a few minutes.

"It's easy to persuade yourself that you'll be fine, particularly after a few beers. But there are hundreds of families across the UK who are still coming to terms with the loss of a relative simply because they fancied a quick dip or wanted to impress their mates. Our message is simple: It's just not worth the risk."

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