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New water safety story book to help young children stay safe by water

A storybook to help young children understand how to stay safe by water is being launched today (Monday 12 February) as part of our Water Safety for Little Explorers campaign.

Quack Quack Take two steps back cover image

Parents with young children make hundreds of thousands of visits to the canals each week to enjoy the fresh air and wildlife. However, our research shows that many parents and carers can experience a level of anxiety about when they are with their children near water, so our campaign aims to help parents talk to their children about staying safe by the water.

Quack, Quack, Take Two Steps Back!

2,000 nurseries along our network will receive a free printed copy of the storybook, called ‘Quack, Quack, Take Two Steps Back!’, and online flipbooks in English and Welsh are also available on the charity’s website. The book, made possible thanks to funds raised by players of People’s Postcard Lottery, tells the story of Squirrel and Mouse, whose acorn ball falls in the water. With the help of their friends, they get their nut back and learn all about staying safe by water.

Annette Simpson, our national education manager, says: “For the millions of families living alongside or near them, canals and rivers are a back garden and first classroom. There are bugs to find, ducks to spot and boats to watch going through locks. It’s never too early to start talking to children about staying safe by water and our storybook is a fun way to introduce safety. Read it with your little ones and then practise taking two steps back with them when you visit the canal.”

People’s Postcode Lottery

The storybook would not have been possible without support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, says: “Canals are such special places for families to spend time and teaching children to be safe by water is as important as learning about fire and road safety. I am delighted that our players support the important work of Canal & River Trust, ensuring that families are making the most of the canals in their areas, fully enjoying what’s on offer.”

The book was written and illustrated by Matt Buckingham at Muddy Publishing.

In 2023, we launched a 90-second film, supported by children’s presenter Maddie Moate, which shows children how to Stay Away From the Edge (stay SAFE) by taking two steps back. Two animated squirrels join in the fun and viewers can see footage of other young children learning to take two steps back from the water. Learning activities are also free to download from our website to help parents and childcare leaders start a conversation about water safety.

Last Edited: 12 February 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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