25 August 2020
Country park

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire County Council would like to remind people to be cautious and think about water safety as more people choose to 'staycation' this summer.

Park spaces with waterways, such as Sywell Country Park, have been experiencing a rise in visitor numbers and issues with people not abiding by park rules.

Visitors have been using parks for barbecues and holding social gatherings late into the evening, with some unauthorised swimming taking place.

Swimming at unauthorised sites can be dangerous and contravenes country park rules in Northamptonshire. Waterways at country parks – including Sywell, Barnwell and Fermyn Woods – hide weeds and undergrowth that swimmers could become tangled in.

There may also be other hidden hazards beneath the water surfaces, and the risk of cold water shock – which forces swimmers to gasp for breath and can cause them to lose control in the water, regardless of whether or not they are strong swimmers.

 

Northamptonshire County Council Cabinet Member for Corporate & Community Services, Councillor Sandra Naden-Horley, said: "We love welcoming people to our country parks and think it’s fantastic that people are choosing to make the most of the wonderful landscapes and scenery the county has to offer.

"Whilst we recognise it can be very tempting for people to want to take a dip, particularly on a warm day, there are many hidden dangers beneath the water’s surface and it is simply not safe for this to happen.

"We must stress that park rules are there for your safety therefore we respectfully ask you to follow them and kindly ask that you adhere to social distancing, take litter home with you to be recycled and do not partake in unauthorised swimming."

Darren Carson, Prevention Team Leader at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "I think the country parks are understandably seeing a lot of visitors at the moment, with people using them to enjoy the school holidays, and possibly with some families opting not to go away for their holidays this year.

"We really want people to enjoy their summers and their green spaces safely so we would urge them to please be mindful of the signs around parks which remind visitors about what is expected from them. We hope people will only have barbecues in designated areas and will make sure they are safe about positioning them away from trees, bushes and anything that could ignite.

"The swimming messages are also important as water can firstly be colder than people expect and can contain hidden hazards, which can catch out even the strongest swimmers. We would ask people to please stay out of the water at country parks, rivers and lakes, unless a supervised open water swimming session is being carried out."

More details about open water safety can be found on the Drowning Prevention Charity website. More information about supervised open water swimming at Sywell Country Park is available by emailing events@northantstri.co.uk.