WITH the holidays approaching, youngsters are being warned by Redditch Council to STAY SAFE THIS EASTER AND STAY OUT so the town does not have another water-related tragedy.

Rebecca Blake, councillor with responsibility for community safety, said the while town is working together to spread the message on the dangers of swimming in open water.

She said: "With the Easter holidays approaching and most of us hoping for warm weather, we are mindful of the increased risk in people swimming in open water. 

"After the tragic loss of life of Richard Fellows, 15, who recently died after being rescued from the weir near the Five Tunnels, the message must be, STAY SAFE THIS EASTER AND STAY OUT.  Swimming where there are no lifeguards is just not worth the risk."

This week the council is joining Marian Barton, headteacher at Trinity where Richard attended, in writing to schools asking them to warn pupils of the dangers in assemblies before they break up and giving them safety information to take away and read.

Redditch Council has met with police, the fire service, the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) and schools on how to better educate young people who are at risk of drowning in open water.  The RLSS have specific information designed for schools and agencies are working together so young people can learn the risks of swimming in rivers, lakes, weirs and any other open water. 

Working with the drowning prevention charity RLSS to run life saving courses in the summer holidays, the council will also advise the hundreds of people who have swimming lessons at council pools every year about open water safety.

Ms Blake said: "While the council is working with RoSPA to learn how to make the town's waterways as safe as possible, educating people about risk of drowning in open water, is the best way to try and keep people safe, especially young people, including 15-19 year old boys, who are significantly at risk.

"It's the unseen dangers that put lives at risk and even good swimmers get into difficulty because of cold water, hidden currents and getting caught on things that lie under the surface.  If you see people swimming in open water, please remind them they are not only putting their own life at risk they are putting others lives at risk who might try and help them if they get into difficulty."

For more information see rlss.org.uk