The reminder comes just weeks after we issued a warning to people not to choose local waterways to cool off in, because of the dangers posed by colder than expected water, currents and underwater obstructions.
Summer is one of the most popular times for people to visit Britain's waterways, with more than 385 million visits made last year by boaters, cyclists, runners, walkers and canoeists. Unfortunately, when the weather warms people can risk their lives by jumping into the water. Of the 400 people who drown in the UK every year, more than half the fatalities happen at inland waters such as canals, rivers, lakes, quarries and reservoirs.
We are reiterating our message that people should come to the waterside and have fun, but during the hot weather, to find a pool or organised event if they want to go swimming. Some of the dangers posed by water in canals, rivers and reservoirs include:
- You can't see the depth – the water could be much shallower than you expect it to be and cause serious harm if someone jumps in, as well as being much deeper than expected in other areas;
- There could be hidden objects under the surface;
- Reeds and other plant life can get tangled around limbs and keep you in the water;
- Low water temperatures can cause the blood to rush away from your muscles to protect your vital organs, meaning muscles may become fatigued very quickly – even amongst the strongest of swimmers.
Rob Eaton, our customer operations manager, said: "We've had reports from community-spirited anglers that they've seen people swimming and diving into the reservoir, which is something we strongly advise against. We have signs in place to discourage it, but people are choosing not to heed the advice.
"Being by the water is a lovely way to spend a summer's day and they are excellent places for families to explore during the holidays. But it's also important that people, especially children and teenagers, are aware of the dangers of going for a dip. The consequences can be devastating."
Our ‘Explorers' water safety 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 Explorers