Safety: Be aware of water perils, say experts

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With the school holidays under way, hanging out by the river on a hot day is a great way to spend your free time.

But the Environment Agency is warning people not to take unnecessary risks while playing and relaxing on, or by, the water’s edge.

Water can contain hazards, particularly in and around structures such as bridges, locks andunexpectedly cold waters or strong currents can also catch bathers off guard,

Rivers are great places to have fun, get close to nature and spend time with friends and family, but looking after yourself, and others, can save lives and water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe.

Russell Robson, strategic specialist for the Environment Agency, said: “We want people to enjoy it without putting themselves and others at risk. It might feel warm out of the water but the river is still very cold, particularly after storm waters top up rivers.”

“In the last few years we have worked hard to get the safety message out to people, stressing that people stay away from the edge particularly at large formal events. Also children must be accompanied by an adult and swimming should be confined to recognised swimming areas, pools and lidos.

“We see young people jumping off bridges and structures along much of the river and, while this can be great fun, there are hidden dangers under the water.”

Top tips

Don’t jump or dive in as the depth may vary and there can be unseen hazards.

Don’t go in the river after drinking alcohol, we know the dangers of this! Please also make sure friends who have been drink are also discouraged from doing anything foolish as well.

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. Those going into cold water can get cramp and experience breathing difficulties very quickly.

Remember drowning can occur 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.