Merseyside is set to bask in more glorious sunshine this weekend as temperatures are set to hit as high at 18C.

But as many people rush to enjoy the warm weather before it changes, a stark warning has been issued about the hidden dangers right underneath our feet. Merseyside Water Rescue is a volunteer based search and rescue charity as they urge people to 'respect the water'.

Taking to social media on Saturday, the charity said the sun is out this weekend and many people may be tempted to take a "quick dip in an open body of water" but there are "hidden hazards" below the surface. Not only that, there is a "very real risk" of cold water shock.

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The Merseyside Water Rescue team wrote on Twitter: "Cold water shock is an uncontrollable reflex triggered by entering water 15C or cooler. It affects even strong swimmers and is one of the biggest causes of drowning. If you find yourself in this situation, remember the Float to Live advice."

According to the Royal Lifesaving Society UK, there are three stages your body goes through during cold water shock, starting with a gasp for breath, followed by rapid breathing (hyperventilation). At the same time as your breathing goes out of control, your blood pressure shoots up as your body tries to keep your blood warm.

Once your breathing is back under control, this is your window to get out of the water before the further effects of cold water shock kick in. As your muscles cool, your strength, endurance and muscle control reduces to the point you can’t swim any longer.

What should you do if you fall into the water?

Keep your mouth away from the water until you have your breathing back under control, you can do this by rolling onto your back and floating or paddling to stay at the surface. Then swim towards an exit or something to help you stay afloat until rescue. Once out the water, re-warm yourself immediately to avoid hypothermia.

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