A MOTHER who lost her son to drowing in the River Wear has backed a national campaign to prevent further such tragedies.

Fiona Gosling tragically lost her son Cameron Gosling, aged 14, after he jumped into the River Wear near Bishop Auckland, on July 5, 2015.

She has joined councils and fire services across the region in backing the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) ‘Be water aware’ week which launched today.

Ms Gosling said: “We understand the desire of people wanting to go into open water when the weather is warm but please remember water does not discriminate and accidents can and do happen.

“As a family we live this nightmare every day, so we urge people to please think, prepare, be water aware."

The Northern Echo:

Fiona Gosling near the River Wear spot where her son tragically died

Sarah Litt, Community Safety Team Leader at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service added: “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.

“Many of our crews have already been out and about attending local water risk area sites in our station area to give advice to the public whilst also carrying out water rescue safety training.”

Meanwhile, Yorkshire Water and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) have backed the national campaign after receiving more than 120 reports of people swimming in Yorkshire Water’s reservoirs since July 2020.

The National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) says 223 people accidentally drowned in the UK in 2019 - with 44 per cent of those deaths occurring in inland water.

Gaynor Craigie, of Yorkshire Water, said: “During lockdown we have seen a worrying increase in the number of reported incidents of people getting into our reservoirs to swim recreationally or simply to have a dip and cool off.

“We know the importance of exercise and visiting the countryside as a boost to mental health, particularly over recent months, but safety must remain paramount.

"Entering a reservoir is dangerous.

"Low water temperatures can cause cold water shock that may lead to hyperventilation, increased blood pressure, breathing difficulties and ultimately death.

"Underwater machinery and the currents associated with their operation are also a potential hazard for people choosing to enter the water. "

Adam Farrow, watch manger prevention at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This year we are asking people respect the water and encourage people to be safe in and around water.

"Activities in water such as use of inflatables and tombstoning can pose a great risk to those involved and should only be done in areas with correct safety and supervision."

Mr Farrow added: “Due to the pandemic we are predicting that more people will stay in the UK this summer and therefore we will see an influx of water-related injuries at our local beaches and beauty spots, therefore expect to see an increased presence from the fire service to help point out hazards and risks and relay safety information."