A hard-hitting film has been launched today to warn the teenagers across the region about the potentially fatal consequences of swimming in reservoirs and other forms of open water such as quarries.
The ‘Not a Game’ film from water company United Utilities is backed by Cheshire Fire & Rescue, as well as other emergency service organisations from across the region such as the North West Ambulance Service. You can see it at www.notagame.co.uk.
Shot from the perspective of a teenage boy who decides to swim at a local reservoir, the film uses video gaming style graphics to accompany actions as they unfold on screen, culminating in images which show him getting into difficulties and drowning.
Mark Byard, United Utilities’ health and safety manager, said: “If you lose a life in a computer game you just start again. But real life isn’t like that. By combining realistic footage of a drowning incident with gaming style graphics, we wanted to hit home with teenagers that swimming in reservoirs is no game. Far from being fun, it can be fatal and there are no second chances.”
‘Not a Game’ has been praised by emergency service teams across the North West, anxious to avoid tragedy this summer.
Terry McDermott, Service Delivery Manager for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Every year we are called to incidents where people, particularly young people, get into difficulty after taking an impromptu dip in open water. This has on a number of occasions led to tragedy and the loss of a life.
"Our advice is to only ever swim outdoors as part of organised open water swimming club. Don't let a cooling dip be the last thing you ever do. Please follow our advice to stay safe this summer.”
In the past four years nine people have drowned in North West reservoirs and other bodies of water across the region, the most recent of which being 15 year old Thomas Barton from Chorley who tragically died last month at Birkacre Brow in Yarrow Valley Park. Although there have been no fatalities at United Utilities reservoirs in recent years, the company is determined to lead the way in making sure people know about the dangers.
The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) hopes that United Utilities’ film will help remind people of how real the dangers are. Derek Cartwright, Director of Emergency Services, said: “We cannot stress enough about the dangers of swimming in open water. When we experience hot weather, 999 calls increase for incidents whereby people have either got injured jumping in the water or who found themselves in difficulty which can be life threatening, and unfortunately we have already seen the tragic death of a teenager in Chorley in these circumstances.
“I personally dealt with an incident in 2008 when a man innocently went for a swim in a reservoir and after getting into difficulty, he sadly lost his life. Soon after, I unexpectedly received a heartfelt letter from his devastated wife thanking me for my efforts in trying to revive him. When we hear stories like this in the media, it is a stark reminder to us all that one misjudgement of potential danger can have shattering consequences.”
‘Not a Game’ is also supported by industry organisations such as the Mineral Products Association (MPA) which runs a national ‘Stay Safe… Stay Out of Quarries’ campaign to highlight the dangers young people expose themselves to by entering quarries uninvited, including a Facebook page featuring videos of parents and friends of teenagers who have lost their lives in tragic quarry accidents.
The MPA’s Elizabeth Clements said: “Young people are often not aware of the dangers presented by swimming or jumping in old quarries or reservoirs, and consequently see exploring such sites as exciting. That’s why raising awareness of how real the dangers can be is so important – we just want teenagers to stay safe this summer.”
As well as the film, United Utilities has produced extra resources to highlight the dangers involved, including a fact sheet from The One Show’s medical expert and practicing GP, Dr Sarah Jarvis, explaining the medical facts behind the warnings. These can also be viewed at www.notagame.co.uk. A competition to encourage the region’s school children to develop their own public safety awareness advert around this topic is also to be launched as part of the campaign.