The Canal and River Trust is urging young people to stay out of the water this summer and to find alternative ways to cool down.
Summer is one of the most popular times for people to visit Cheshire’s canals and rivers, and between April 2017 and March 2018 there were more than 372 million visits made by boaters, cyclists, runners, walkers and canoeists.
However, unfortunately, when the weather warms people sometimes get into difficulties after jumping into the canals and rivers to cool down.
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.
The charity is asking people to find other ways to cool down this summer and to avoid getting in the water:
- Canal and river water will be really cold, even in the summer, and will take your breath away making it difficult to swim, so have a cooling drink instead.
- If you want to jump and dive, head to your local swimming pool, don’t get in locks or canals. Canals can be shallow and you could hurt yourself if you jump in.
- Lounge in the shade of waterside trees, rather than get tangled in waterway reeds.
- Have an ice lolly at a waterside café.
- Keep your cool – chill out by the water and let your worries drift away.
Debbie Lumb, national health and safety advisor at the Canal and River Trust, said: “Spending time on or 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 cooling off by going for a dip. The consequences can be devastating.”
Mel Goodship’s 17-year-old son James drowned in June 2014 while swimming with friends in Foulridge Reservoir, Lancashire.
Mel said: “James used to mess around in the water with his friends; he was a strong swimmer so we just thought he’d be fine. We had never sat our children down and explained the dangers of the water, I didn’t really know what they were myself.
“The shock of the cold water paralysed his muscles, took his energy and took his life. If you’re thinking about getting into any stretch of water which isn’t supervised, please don’t.”
Debbie Lumb added: “Inland waterways, like canals, rivers and docks can look really inviting but you can’t tell what is below the surface. The water is often murky and you won’t be able to see the depth or any obstacles in the water.
“We’re asking people to find another way to cool off this summer – have an ice cream, stay in the shade, go for a swim in your local pool. Please don’t get in the water, it’s just not worth it.”
The Canal and River Trust 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 visiting schools and speaking to youth groups about their local canal or river and in three years have reached more than 100,000 children.
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
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