We are urging people to be alert to the dangers of the waterways in winter after statistics reveal that young people, especially men, are most likely to have an accident, usually after a night on the tiles. Given the festive time of year, it's important to be extra vigilant and always pre-plan your route home, travel with friends and do not walk home alone.
Tony Stammers, head of safety at the Canal & River Trust, said: “As Christmas party season is upon us it's even more important to remember the potential dangers of walking along the edge of the water, especially if you have been drinking and are under the influence.
“Many towpaths are unlit quiet ways and it's all too easy to slip over or fall in. So our message is do not walk near the water at night, always plan your route home with friends, and never walk alone.”
Do not walk near the water at night
Overall, deaths are decreasing on our waterways, but every fatality is one too many. Towpaths, bridges and lock-sides can also become slippery at this time of year and snow can conceal boat mooring rings and ropes which, unless people are paying attention, can be easy to trip over. And whilst frozen canals look beautiful no-one should ever attempt to walk on or test the thickness of the ice.
Each year around 400 people drown in the UK, according to the Royal Life Saving Society UK, the drowning prevention charity, with children and young adults and people under the influence of alcohol among the highest risk groups.
Families should make sure that young children are kept within sight and made aware of the importance of staying away from the edge. Dog walkers are advised to keep dogs on leads during a freeze, and never follow their animal on to the ice.