A FIRE brigade is urging people not to take risks in water amidst concerned about a potential influx of people getting into difficulty once lockdown measures are eased.

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to set out his roadmap out of lockdown today, which will eventually lead to more people mixing outdoors, new figures show a record number of deaths and injuries were caused by water emergencies in Durham and Darlington last year.

The Northern Echo: Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). Picture date: Monday February 15, 2021. PA Photo.

Home Office data shows that in Durham and Darlington, one death and 11 injuries occurred in incidents where firefighters were called to flooding or other water emergencies in 2019-20.

This was the highest number since comparable records began in 2010-11, and up from only five in 2018-19.

Figures reveal that last year’s incidents involved one death, eight hospitalisations, one first aid casualty and two where precautionary checks were carried out.

But there are fresh concerns that this year could see another rise with people locked in their homes for so long, many are eager to start travelling further afield for a day out.

With the added expectations of a staycation boom, it is likely the British countryside could be busier than ever this summer.

This has raised fears with Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue, who have issued a fresh warning about the potential dangers.

The Northern Echo: Data on water related incidents in England between 2019 and 2020 by age

Glen Stewart, Community Safety Manager at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service said: “With the possibility of lockdown restrictions easing over the summer, we are more than likely going to see an influx of people exploring and enjoying our beautiful County, and we want everyone to be able to enjoy the outdoors safely.

“We understand that going into open water can be tempting, especially when it is warm and sunny, but we are encouraging all members of the public not to take risks.

“Although the water looks inviting from the surface, it is still cold enough to induce Cold Water Shock, not to mention the dangers lurking beneath that you cannot see from the surface.

“Don’t swim in open water unless there is a lifeguard present, always let someone know where you are going and call 999 in an emergency.”

Home Office data shows a huge increase in water related incidents across England, which may be down to the flooding caused by the storms.

Of the 17,505 incidents last year, 13 per cent occurred in February, when Storms Dennis and Ciara brought the wettest conditions for the month since records began in England and Wales.

Last year across England, there were 111 deaths, 274 hospitalisations and 422 injuries overall – all of which were the highest on record.

Further analysis of the data shows that the age group of 30-54 year olds were the most likely to get into difficulty in a ‘water related incident’ in 2019/2020.

Last year also saw a record number of young people under 14 getting into difficulty in the water.

The over 75s are the least likely to get into trouble in the water.

On a break down of gender, men are more likely to be involved in a water related incident than women.