As temperatures soar across the country, Canal & River Trust (Yorkshire & North East) is working with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) to help reinforce the importance of staying safe by water this summer and ask people to avoid open water swimming in their local canals, rivers and reservoirs.
The waterways and wellbeing charity which looks after 316 miles of waterways and five reservoirs in the region runs regular campaigns to alert people to the dangers of swimming in inland waterways and this year’s summer water safety message is supported by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Sean McGinley, director Yorkshire & North East, said: “We want people to relax and enjoy the health benefits of spending time by water. But as the weather warms up, we are also keen to remind people not to swim in our waterways.
“There may be hidden dangers such as unexpected currents and submerged objects which can quickly cause even the strongest swimmer to get in trouble or cause injury.”
The Trust is once again delivering its ‘Explorers’ water safety summer education programme to help thousands of schoolchildren learn how to enjoy their local canal or river safely.
Following the tragic death of a young boy in the River Calder, Canal & River Trust is urging people not to swim in canals, river and reservoirs. The said Trust regarding the incident: “This is a tragic accident and our thoughts are very much with the family and with everyone affected by this very sad loss.
“On a hot day we understand that people might feel like cooling off in a river, canal or reservoir but we strongly advise people to stay out of the water. There are lots of hidden risks that you can’t see – submerged obstacles that can cause injury or you can get tangled in, unknown depth and current, and often the water is a lot colder than you think which can lead to shock.”
The charity is also continuing to work in partnership with emergency services across the region to help keep the community safe through signage and safety measures in hot spot areas.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is supporting the Trust’s campaign, as well as sending out its own messages.
Andy Rose, group manager at WYFRS, said: “Unfortunately, during periods of warm weather we tend to see these figures rise with people entering canals and rivers to cool down and swim.
“As appealing this may seem there are many hidden dangers that have tragically taken lives and I would urge members of the public to think twice before entering due the potential unseen hazards and risks.
“We are committed to protecting the people of West Yorkshire, and are working with other authorities to implement measures now and in the future to continue to keep people safe.”
WYFRS has highlighted the following risks of open water swimming:
- Cold water shock.
- Submerged obstacles such as tree branches, rubbish, or even vehicles that may not be visible due to the depth or clarity of the water.
- Undercurrents, even though it may appear to be still, static water on the surface, there could potentially be undercurrents that have the ability to pin individuals to the bottom of the riverbed.
- Weirs are to be avoided at all costs. The biggest danger is at the bottom in the form of a ‘stopper.’ Here the recirculating current pulls you back towards the falls and pushes you under the water. In some cases, these are impossible to escape.
- Contamination from unclean/unsafe water leading to illnesses or diseases
- The waterway and wellbeing charity Canal & River Trust looks after a total of 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England and Wales, as well as 72 reservoirs.
To date 125,000 children over the past four years have benefited from the Trust’s water safety Explorers programme, which focuses on children in Key Stage 2 of the National Curriculum.
To help with water safety education at home the Explorers team has compiled a range of free activities, resources and games which can be found at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/explorers/learning-from-home/water-safety.
To find out more about staying safe near canals and rivers, go to: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/safety-on-our-waterways/summer-water-safety