On Sunday 11 December reports were shared of a rescue effort of several people at Babbs Mill, Kingshurst in the West Midlands. Reports said that a number of people had entered the water after been on the frozen lake.  

We now know that tragically, four boys aged six, eight, 10 and 11 have sadly died.

The Royal Life Saving UK (RLSS UK) would like to send our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of the four boys who sadly lost their lives at Babbs Mill Lake in Solihull this week.

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragic event, including the families and friends of those involved, as well the local community of Solihull, and all of the Emergency Services. 

RLSS UK has issued safety advice to ensure everyone is aware of the dangers around frozen water and what to do in an emergency.  

Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK said, “Firstly, and most importantly, we would like to send our thoughts to the individuals and families involved with the incident which occurred yesterday, 11 December. We know that incidents such as this cause concern in the local community within that area, but also nationally. 

“The cold weather we saw at the weekend meant that many bodies of water froze over and created hazardous conditions. We appreciate the temptation to walk across or play on the frozen water but we would like to urge everyone to know what dangers are associated with frozen water. 

“Our advice is to never go on to the ice under any circumstances. The ice may appear thicker than it is but please be aware that ice is vulnerable, especially as you move further from the edge. If you were to fall in this can be extremely dangerous due to the cold temperatures of the water and the possibility of currents pushing you under unbroken ice.” 

Cold water shock refers to a range of natural reactions that our bodies take to protect us when we enter the cold water, however, these reactions can sometimes work against us, Lee explains: 

“There are three stages that your body goes through during cold water shock, starting with a gasp for breath, this is then followed by rapid breathing. Your blood pressure then shoots up as your body tries to keep your blood warm by moving it towards the middle of your body. 

“As your muscles cool, your strength, endurance and muscle control reduces to the point when you cannot swim any longer so you are unable to rescue yourself, which is where the real danger can be seen.”  

RLSS UK offer safety advice for winter water safety, with simple steps to keep safe during the winter: 

  1. Never go onto the ice to play, to retrieve an object, or a pet
  2. Never enter the ice to rescue somebody, call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service

What to do if you fall through the ice: 
  • Keep calm and shout for ‘help’
  • Spread your arms across the surface of the ice in front of you
  • If the ice is strong enough, kick your legs to slide onto the ice
  • Lie flat and pull yourself towards the bank
  • If the ice breaks, work your way to the bank-breaking the ice in front of you anyway
  • If you cannot climb out, wait for help and keep as still as possible. Preserve heat by pressing your arms by your side and keep your legs together. Keep your head clear of the water
  • Once you are safe, go to hospital immediately for a check up
What to do if you see someone fall through the ice:
  • Shout for assistance and phone the emergency services – call 999 or 112
  • Do not walk or climb onto the ice to attempt a rescue
  • Shout to the casualty to ‘keep still’ and offer reassurance to keep them calm
  • Try and reach them from the bank using a rope, pole, tree branch, clothing tied together or anything else which can extend your reach
  • When reaching from the bank, lie down to avoid being pulled onto the ice
  • If you cannot reach them, slide something which floats, such as a plastic bottle or football, across the ice for them to hold onto to stay afloat whilst help is on the way
  • If the casualty is too far away, do not attempt to rescue them. Wait for the emergency services while calming and reassuring the casualty

Read more winter water safety advice

View our water safety education resources

View our water safety practical resources