Well, it looks like Summer may have finally arrived in Cumbria and the school holidays are quickly approaching which means many of us, including myself (I’m a keen paddleboarder), will be flocking to the nearest lake, river or beach to swim, play and take part in water sports. However, being in the water does come with its own risks, which is why I want to raise the importance of water safety.

I am one of many that take advantage of the warmer weather to take part in water sports on our lakes and sitting on calm, still water can provide us with a sense of serenity and security that is hard to match. It’s good for your mental health and I for one would never pass up a chance to admire our county’s fabulous scenery. Underneath the surface, however, a real danger lurks. Entering deep water can cause cold water shock, even when the temperature on land is high. Cold water shock is an involuntary response to the body being suddenly submerged in cold water. It causes dramatic changes in breathing and puts you at significant risk of drowning – if this does happen to you, float to live. Adopt the star shaped float position on your back, spread out and relax, the shock will pass.

Reducing the risk of getting into trouble helps to relieve pressure on our Fire and Rescue serviceReducing the risk of getting into trouble helps to relieve pressure on our Fire and Rescue service (Image: Supplied)

I would also, always, if you are doing any water sports, wear a personal flotation device (PFD), or what we used to call a life vest. It might just save your life!

Common sense also prevails around the water – don’t enter the water if you have been drinking or if you are on any other substances that can affect your capacity and never enter the water to assist with someone else in danger. As a parent, keeping our children safe is a priority and we want to help but getting in the water not only endangers the child’s life but also your own.

By being sensible, we can reduce the risk of getting into trouble and we also reduce the pressure on our Fire and Rescue Service. Cumbria is incredibly rural and the county sees an influx of visitors at this time of year, which means our emergency services are even busier than usual. They will always be there to help, but none of us want to get into a dangerous situation therefore prevention is key – by reading up on advice and thinking before acting, we can make Cumbria safer and better.

Check the Cumbria Fire Service website to get the latest practical information on how to keep safe in the water at https://www.cumbriafire.gov.uk/water-safety. Remember, emergency services are there to help so please call them on 999 in an emergency.

David Allen Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner