Dromore High School pupils have been given a strong warning to stay away from reservoirs and other bodies of water, including disused quarries closed for public access.
The warning came from NI Water, who say that as summer holidays beckon, the temptation is for groups of children or young people to take a dip or bring boats and equipment onto the water.
In 2013 Dromara schoolboy Kevin O’Hare died after getting into difficulty while swimming at a quarry near Annalong. Father-of-two Colin Polland (39) also died while trying to rescue the 15-year-old.
“Understandably,” said NI Water health and safety manager Michael Bergin, “a reservoir or quarry can look like the perfect place to cool down and have some fun with friends. However, below the calm surface lie some very real hidden dangers.”
Mr Bergin appealed to parents to explain to their children the dangers of playing in or around such areas.“We all have a role to play in being safe around water,” he said, “and schools and groups now have an opportunity to help. Working alongside colleagues in the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland, NI Water is offering two iPads to the group which best showcases their creative talents to encourage water safety this summer.
“This can be by recording a video, designing a poster, staging a drama piece, or by any other creative means.” Entry is open to all youth and community groups across Northern Ireland, and closes on Friday 7 August at 5pm.
“I am also urging the local community to be vigilant,” said Mr Bergin, “as NI Water is experiencing a growing problem of people vandalising our sites or damaging fencing around sites to gain access.”