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Water safety plea as heatwave approaches

We are urging people to take extra care when out by the waterside this summer. As the temperature heats up, the temptation to cool off in a local waterway increases but so do the dangers.

  • 400 people drown every year in the UK
  • As the temperature rises people ignore safety in favour of a cooling dip
  • Biggest risk is among adult men who are most likely to have an accident after drinking alcohol

One of the biggest hazards is falling into the water if you have been drinking alcohol. Statistics reveal that young people, especially men, are most likely to have an accident after a day of drinking in the sunshine, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Additionally, families need to make sure that young children are kept within sight and are made aware of the importance of staying away from the water's edge.

Every fatality is one too many

One person dies from drowning every 20 hours in the UK, and it's the third highest cause of accidental death of children in the UK, according to figures from the Royal Life Saving Society UK. Overall, deaths on inland waterways are decreasing, but every fatality is one too many.

Tony Stammers, head of health and safety at the Canal & River Trust, explains: “Canals and rivers are brilliant places to go on hot summer days, and excellent for families to explore during the holidays. But it's also important that people are aware of the dangers of cooling off by going for a dip in the wrong place.

“Inland waters such as canals, rivers and reservoirs may look inviting on a hot summer's day to children, and adults - especially after a few alcoholic drinks, 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.”

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 more than 400 million visits to the waterways by boaters, cyclists, walkers and canoeists.

Take care

RLSS UK (Royal Life Saving Society) Chief Executive Di Steer said: “The number of accidental drowning incidences has, over the last few years, reached a plateau of around 400. There is no quick fix to get this number down further. There are many at-risk groups for many different reasons. Education to instil a change in behaviour is considered the only method that will reach the final 400, as well as future generations, and help prevent these tragic deaths and accidents.”

Last Edited: 29 June 2015

photo of a location on the canals
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