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The charity making life better by water

Safety on our waterways

Whatever the weather, our waterways are very popular with thousands of people visiting every year. With every season we urge all of you to be careful and safe around water.

A cyclist talking to two walkers on the towpath.

Safety is very important to us at the Trust. We're urging everyone to remember that although you may be fit and strong on land, you can't train your body for the shocks of unseen dangers under the water, at any time of year.

The risks of getting in the water include:

  • Low temperatures, which can cause the body to go into cold shock and even hypothermia, drawing the blood away from your muscles to protect your organs. This can lead to drowning
  • Reeds and other plant life, which can get tangled around limbs and keep you in the water
  • Litter, like shopping trolleys, which can trap your feet as well as cause injury
  • Depth perception - it 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
  • Waterborne diseases such as Leptospirosis (Weil's disease)

Find out more about summer safety and winter safety, as well as how to stay safe during flooding.

Canal water is untreated water and so may contain pollution, biological or chemical contaminants. Please bear this in mind when you come into contact with the water and follow basic hygiene measures.

It's important to take extra care next to water when you've had a few drinks. Take a route home away from the water. We support the Don't Drink & Drown campaign run by the RLSS UK, which encourages people to take care on a night out.

Last Edited: 31 May 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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