On a hot day, it might seem like a great idea to cool down in open air water but we strongly advise you don't get in the water - there are too many risks that you can't see hidden below the surface. Please be responsible near water - here are some reasons why it's important that you are.
Family walking along the canal
The risks of being in the water include:
- Canals are often shallow, which you can't tell from the surface. If you jump in you are likely to injure yourself, possibly seriously.
- However don't be fooled by thinking that all canals are shallow, if you can't put your feet on the ground, it'll be much harder to get out. Rivers, reservoirs and docks are generally much deeper, and colder.
Hidden dangers under the water
- Canals are havens for wildlife and maintaining water habitats are an important part of our work. If you're in the water, reeds and other plant life could get tangled around your limbs and trap you in the water making it very difficult to climb out.
- Sadly, rubbish like shopping trolleys can be lurking below the surface of canals and rivers. If you're in the water you could injure yourself by cutting yourself on a rusty old bicycle or broken glass, or get trapped on a larger piece of rubbish, like a trolley or even a motorbike.
- Waterborne diseases, including Weil’s Disease (leptospirosis), are extremely rare, but if you are swimming you're most exposed to them. If you are likely to come into contact with water it’s sensible to take a few precautions:
- If you’ve got any cuts or scratches, keep them covered.
- If you fall in, take a shower and treat cuts with antiseptic and a sterile dressing.
- Wash wet clothing before you wear it again.
- If you develop flu-like symptoms within two weeks, see a doctor and mention that you fell in the water. Not all doctors will know to look for signs of Weil’s Disease, so do suggest it as a possibility.
- Even on a hot day inland waterways will be colder than you think, particularly reservoirs and docks as they're deeper. Low temperatures can cause the blood to rush away from your muscles to protect your organs and limbs and muscles may become fatigued quickly - this can lead to drowning.
Last date edited: 28 November 2017