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Heartbroken mum teams up with Nottinghamshire Police to warn of dangers of open water

July 30, 2020
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A heartbroken mum whose son drowned while saving two friends has teamed up with Nottinghamshire Police to warn of the dangers of swimming in open water.

Three years ago this month Nicola Jenkins lost her 12-year-old son, Owen, in July 2017 after he had gone into Beeston Weir to help two friends.

After rescuing one friend, who’d got into difficulties, Owen returned to the water to rescue another friend but the current was too strong and it dragged him under. Sadly he didn't resurface. Owen gave his life to save another and died a hero.

Nicola is urging young people not to enter rivers, lakes and canals and to be aware of the dangers, now that schools have broken up for the summer holidays.

More people will potentially visit county beauty spots to enjoy warmer weather as the Covid-19 lockdown eases.

Young people have already been seen entering open water at the Erewash Canal and the River Erewash in the Stapleford area. Other water courses in the borough, such as the River Trent at Beeston Weir, are also areas of concern and particular risk.

Mrs Jenkins, who founded the Open Water Education Network (OWEN) water safety programme in Owen's memory, said: "With the weather getting warmer, water is inviting. The first thing children want to do is cool off but they don’t think about the dangers.

"If you jump into the water the temperature outside is warmer than the temperature of the water so you’re probably likely to go into cold water shock. That’s where your body goes into an automatic shock response so your heart beats faster and you start gasping for air.

"There are also hidden dangers like undercurrents, debris in the water and potentially sharp objects.

"Don’t take the risk by going into the water just for some fun. It’s really not worth your life.

"I’d also urge parents to speak to their children about the risks of what can happen by going into open water and tell them about Owen’s story."

Chief Superintendent Rob Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: "We hope that people will recognise the risks and the tragic consequences that can occur and avoid swimming in open water, no matter how tempting it might be in the hot weather.

"We’re urging people not to go into open water. Even if you consider yourself to be a strong swimmer, you can suddenly get out of your depth or be taken unawares by hidden undercurrents or cold water shock as the temperature of the water can change very quickly."

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager Simon Glew said: "Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service work hard to create safer communities through the use of water safety advice.

"We often provide a presence and advise people that swimming and jumping into open water, such as rivers, canals, ponds and lakes, can be extremely dangerous as you don’t know what hazards lie below the surface.

"Undercurrents can sweep you off your feet and put you in immediate danger which is when you may need help. We ask you not to jump or swim in waters such as these due to the potential consequences.

"Please remember to be vigilant and if you see someone struggling in the water call 999. If you are struggling in the water call for help and lay backwards whilst floating."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The dangers of open water include:

* Temperature – the water can be extremely cold, which can lead to a number of physiological conditions which affect the ability to swim

* Strong or hidden currents – water being pumped out of reservoirs creates currents which aren’t always noticeable

* Depth – it is difficult to estimate the depth of open water and it can change dramatically, even close to the bank

* Hidden hazards – such as weed, rubbish or broken glass which could trap a young person or cause injury

* Climbing out – once in the water, it can be difficult to get out due to steep, slimy or crumbling banks

* Pollution – this can affect any stretch of water, but may particularly be an issue at old industrial sites such as quarries

To read more about water safety on the Royal Life Saving Society’s website visit: www.rlss.org.uk/Pages/Category/water-safety-information

For more information about the Open Water Education Network (OWEN) visit their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Owenjenkins07/

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101 is the number to call when you need to contact Nottinghamshire Police and it’s less urgent than a 999 call. Calls cost 15p, no matter how long the call lasts.