SUN worshippers have been given water safety advice with Oxfordshire set to bathe in more warm weather.

The County Council's Fire and Rescue Service are reminding the public to stay safe at rivers and lakes.

Drowning in the UK is amongst the leading causes of accidental death, with seven water-related fatalities recorded in Oxfordshire between 2017-2018.

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Residents are being warned about the risks of unseen objects beneath the surface, cold water shock and currents. Anyone in trouble is advised to try to float on their back.

Lee Swain, Safety Manager for Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, said: “As firefighters, we don’t want to stop people enjoying our waters, but we do want to ensure they understand the dangers and behave as safely as possible.”

Even on a warm day, the temperature of a body of open water can remain very cold, meaning cold-shock response is possible.

Mr Swain explained: “You gasp for air. Meaning that you could breathe in water. You hyperventilate. This over-breathing can make you light-headed and, as your brain is deprived of oxygen, you may become disoriented.

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“Your body’s cold shock response, which speeds up the heart rate, may conflict with the diving response, which does the opposite, causing your heart to go into abnormal rhythms which can cause sudden death.”

Anyone witnessing someone in trouble in the water is asked to 999 and shout for help.

They shouldn’t enter the water themselves; instead throw something in that floats.

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Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service also advises that:

• Reservoirs, lakes, rivers and other inland water may look safe and inviting, particularly on a warm day. But there are hidden dangers below the surface that could make people ill, cause injury; even kill.

• Even on a warm day, the temperature of the water in a reservoir, quarry or lake can remain very cold. The low water temperature can numb limbs and claim lives.

• From the surface, it’s not always possible to see what’s under the water. This could be anything from large rocks to machinery; from shopping trolleys to branches, and even fish hooks or broken fishing line, all of which could cause injury.

• Moving water, such as rivers, might look calm but there could be strong currents below the surface. Even reservoirs have currents, caused by working machinery. Whether or not someone’s a strong swimmer, currents can carry them into danger.

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Across the UK, one person drowns every 20 hours, and it is the third highest cause of accidental death of children.

Thousands more people suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences.

Activities that are known to lead to the highest number of fatalities are walking, running, swimming, jumping or diving in.

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Revellers enjoy the water during a 2016 at Fiddler's Island. Picture: Jon Lewis

Mr Swain continued: “A simple change to our behaviour can reduce the risk of drowning. Knowing how to respond quickly, safely and appropriately can help save lives.

“The advice is to expect the unexpected when you’re in the water. The shock of cold water will make your muscles become weaker; you may not be able to keep yourself afloat or pull yourself out. Your body will shiver, which will affect your coordination and your swimming ability.

“Respect the water, even if you’re a good swimmer and familiar with the river, lake or reservoir. Be water aware.”

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