Summer is (hopefully) coming – and warm weather brings the dangerous temptation to cool off in rivers, warns the Environment Agency (EA).
With the school holidays approaching, the EA is reminding people not to take risks and make sure family and friends stay safe.
River water can contain hazards, particularly in and around structures such as bridges, locks and flood channels.
Unexpectedly cold water or strong currents can catch bathers off guard. The winter floods have also moved a lot of debris around the channels, which remain hidden beneath the surface.
Rivers are great places to have fun and get close to nature and spend time with friends and family, but vigilance can save lives and water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe.
Russell Robson, technical team leader for the Environment Agency, said: “The summer is a great time on our rivers, and we expect the River Thames to be a focal point for a lot of people’s leisure time.
“Not only do people boat, fish and walk by our rivers, they spend weekends camping and just lazing by the waters.
“We would like people to enjoy the water but to remember some basic safety points when out having fun.
“Over the last few years we have worked hard to get the safety message out to children and parents, stressing that people stay away from the edge, that children must be accompanied by an adult and swimming should be confined to recognised swimming areas, pools and lidos.
“We often see youngsters jumping off bridges, and swimming, along many of the rivers in the South East and, while this can be great fun, there are hidden dangers in the water that could cause them to get into difficulties. We are urging parents to supervise their children closely in and around water and make sure they do not enter the water alone.
“Come and enjoy the river and all that is going on around it, but please remember to bring your common sense with you as well.”
The Environment Agency has provided some information to consider when planning your days out and holidays, whilst still having fun and being safe:
Top tips from the EA include:
– Don’t jump or dive in as the depth may vary and there can be unseen hazards.
– Don’t go in near weirs, locks, pipes and sluices – these and some other water features are often linked with strong currents.
– Inland waters can be very cold no matter how warm the weather – leading to cramp and breathing difficulties.
Parents and guardians can help keep children safe by teaching them to swim, warning them not to go into water alone or unsupervised, ensuring they know where the children are and what they are doing and supervising them closely when near any open water.
Drowning can happen very quickly, even in shallow water, and the key to keeping safe is to take all necessary precautions to avoid getting into difficulty in the first place.
Educating people about Wild Swimming water safety:
Adults and teenagers: http://hungouttodry.co.uk/page3.htm
Parents and Children: http://hungouttodry.co.uk/page9.htm
Drowning riak and Wild Swimming: http://hungouttodry.co.uk/page31.htm