We are calling on parents, children and young adults to stay safe by the water this summer and to stay out of the canals and rivers however hot the weather gets.
We always urge parents to make sure their children know how to stay safe. Tony Stammers, head of health and safety
Summer is one of the most popular times for people to visit Britain’s canals and rivers, and last year was the busiest on record with almost 13 million people taking a trip to their local waterway. However, as the weather warms, the temptation to cool off in a local waterway increases - sometimes with tragic consequences.
Tony Stammers, head of health and safety at the Canal & River Trust explains: “Canals and rivers are brilliant places to go to on hot days, and excellent for families to explore during the holidays – I’d encourage anyone to make a visit this summer. But it’s also important that people, especially children, are aware of the dangers of cooling off by going for a dip in the wrong place. We always urge parents to make sure their children know how to stay safe.
“In particular, inland waters such as canals, rivers and reservoirs may look inviting on a hot summer’s day, but any open body of water can pose a hazard as the water can often be extremely cold and can bring on cramps in even the strongest swimmers and there may be hidden objects lurking beneath the surface.”
Each year around 400 people drown in the UK, with the highest number of deaths recorded in the country’s inland waterways according to the Royal Life Saving Society UK, the drowning prevention charity, with children, young adults and people under the influence of alcohol among the highest risk groups.
Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Director of Lifesaving, Adrian Lole, said: “Tragically, more than 30 people drowned in just seven weeks during last summer’s heat wave. Open water may look inviting on a hot summer’s day but it can also be deep, unpredictable and the cold which can quickly cause someone to get into trouble. We’re encouraging people to enjoy the nice weather but go to an outside lido or designated open water areas where lifeguards are present.”
The Canal & River Trust ‘Explorers’ programme, which focuses on children in Key Stage 2 of the National Curriculum, aims to help young people learn about and enjoy their local canal or river safely and can also be used towards a number of Cub Scout and Brownie badges. Dozens of volunteers nationwide help the Trust each year by going into schools and speaking to youth groups about their local canal or river. If you’d like to see the free resources available or if you’re interested in helping the Trust educate young people about their local canal or river, visit www.canalriverexplorers.org.uk