Advice has been issued after a person got into difficulty while apparently swimming in a Carlisle river.

Over the last few days the team at North Cumbria Rescue and Response were told about an incident in the River Eden, at Rickerby Park, where a person got into difficulty when entering the water.

With recent high temperatures sending people into parks and rivers to cool off, the team is stressing that a seemingly benign river can be very dangerous, due to a phenomenon called cold water shock.

In the latest incident, a passer-by was able to intervene and help the casualty to safety on the bank.

A spokesman for North Cumbria Rescue and Response said: “Cold water shock can take away your strength to swim and even affects the strongest of swimmers.”

Effects of cold water shock due to rapid immersion are:

  • A sharp intake of breath which if done underwater after a dive can start the drowning chain
  • Rapid uncontrollable breathing
  • Your blood starts moving to your core which leads to high blood pressure and inability to move muscles due to lack of oxygen being transported to the affected areas
  • All the above quickly lead to swim failure and the potential to drown

The spokesman added: “To bring it into context locally, one of our operations team went to Rickerby Park and recorded the temperature of dry paving, and the temperature of the water.

“These came back as 24 degrees on land, and only 10.4 degrees in the water, with the water temperature less than half the surface temperature and well below 15 degrees where cold water shock starts to occur.

“This could be potentially dangerous.

“More than 66 per cent of people who drown in open water were regarded as good swimmers with 55 per cent of drownings occurring within 3m of a safe refuge.”

North Cumbria Rescue and Response provides a dedicated DEFRA standard, flood response unit to Carlisle and surrounding districts.

Having determined a need for a local flood response team, it now hopes to be able to deploy immediately when the next flood event happens, to maximise the number of people they can help.

The team was formed in November 2018 to serve the City of Carlisle and the communities of north Cumbria. It achieved charity status in March 2019.