Stay safe by water this summer

The Canal & River Trust, the waterways and wellbeing charity which cares for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, is urging families, particularly with children, to stay out of the water and to pledge to stay away from the edge this summer.

With the inaugural World Drowning Prevention Day taking place on 25th July, at the start of the summer holidays, the charity is asking families to stay SAFE near water – Stay Away From the Edge. Repeating this message to children will help them remember what to do near water.

Summer is one of the most popular times for people to visit Britain’s canals and rivers. With more people remaining local and holidaying close to home this year, the Trust is expecting many of its waterways to be particularly popular. In summer 2020, during the pandemic, canals were a local outdoor lifeline for many people. Visits in many urban areas more than doubled as people headed to one of the Trust’s canals or rivers for their exercise and to get closer to nature.

However, 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 experience all the safe ways to enjoy the canals this summer but to avoid getting in the water:

  • Canal and river water will be really cold, even in the summer, and emersion in cold water could bring on cold water shock
  • Have a cool drink instead
  • If you want to jump and dive, head to your local swimming pool. 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 enjoy the feeling of peacefulness it brings you

Debbie Lumb, national health & safety advisor at the Canal & River Trust explains: “Spending time on or by Britain’s waterways is a lovely way to spend a summer’s day and they are excellent places for families to explore during the warm weather. 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.

“Inland waterways, like canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks can look really inviting but you can’t tell what is below the surface. The water often isn’t clear and you won’t be able to see the depth or any obstacles in the water. Please stay away from the edge and don’t get in the water, it’s just not worth it. If you want to swim outside, find an open water swimming club near you by visiting the Canal & River Trust website.”

“There are lots of water safety themed activities available for children on our website, a great thing to do when out for a stroll along the canal and a chance to talk to kids about water safety at the same time.”

The Canal & 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.

See the free resources available and how to help the Trust educate young people about their local canal or river.

Get tips on how to talk to your children about water safety and staying safe near canals and rivers.

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Welcome back, but stay safe

The Manchester Water Safety Partnership (MWSP) is urging people to stay safe by the water this spring as people return to waterside pubs, bars and restaurants following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

From 12 April 2021, when people in England will be able to visit the outside areas of bars, pubs and restaurants, the MWSP, is reminding people to take care when drinking near the water and to take a route home away from the water’s edge.

David Wilson, chair of Manchester Water Safety Partnership, said: “It’s great that people can now meet up with friends as restrictions continue to ease but make sure to stay safe when enjoying yourself.

“On your way home after a fun day or night out, you and your friends need to be careful. If you’ve had a few drinks, don’t walk home by the water’s edge, find another route. Stay with and look out for your friends to make sure that you all get home safely.”

Debbie Lumb, national health and safety advisor at Canal and River Trust added: “How wonderful that we can enjoy spring with friends and family at one of the many waterside pubs, bars and restaurants.

We know that spending time by water and being close to nature is good for your health and wellbeing, we just want those visiting the wonderful canal-side pubs, bars and restaurants to take care after they’ve been drinking.”

Stay safe this April:

  • Look out for your friends, make sure you all get home safely.
  • Find another route home away from the water’s edge.
  • Don’t enter the water if you have been drinking.
  • Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble.

More advice:
Summer Water Safety
Stay safe on a night out
Bereaved families warn of water dangers
Throw-line locations
Social media assets to share

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Take extra care if exercising around water

Drowning Prevention Week 2020 will see Manchester Water Safety Partnership focus on helping people stay safe around water in line with the Government’s guidance and restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The dedicated week of action runs from April 20 to April 26 this year and is led by the National Fire Chiefs’ Council (NFCC) and supported by fire and rescue services all over the UK, including Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS).

During the week messages will be shared on GMFRS’ social media channels, as well as those of partners, urging people to take extra care around their local waterways while exercising.

Area Manager Paul Fearnhead from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We want to keep everyone safe during lockdown while adhering to Government guidance, which includes practising social distancing and exercising locally once a day.

“Where possible we ask that you stay away from open water, but if you do find yourself near water while exercising then please take extra care and be mindful that there are less people around at the moment to raise the alarm if you find yourself in difficulty.

“We ask if possible that you let someone know where you are going to exercise and when you are coming back and always abide by any signage you see. Also, be sure to look out for hazards around water, stick to proper paths and bear in mind social distancing ahead of venturing out to exercise – often paths along canals and rivers are narrow.

“We also want to remind dog owners never to enter the water if their dog jumps or falls in. Most dogs manage to scramble out but some owners are not so lucky.”

Read more water safety advice from GMFRS.

Follow social media activity during the week using the hashtag #BeWaterAware

The Royal Life Saving Society give suggestions for fun activities to help keep your children entertained at home, while also teaching them about water safety.

The Canal and River Trust also have a selection of fun games for children to enjoy at home.

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Revellers urged to take care near water

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is continuing its mission to keep people safe around water running up to Christmas.

Firefighters have delivered water safety training to managers and landlords of bars close to waterways as part of its plan to educate more people about water safety and prevent drowning incidents, particularly in Manchester city-centre.

Training has taken place around Deansgate Locks jointly delivered by GMFRS and Royal Life Saving Society UK, with support from CityCo and Greater Manchester Police.

The prevention work supports that carried out across the UK by organisations and charities, such as the Royal Life Saving Society UK – which is running its latest Don’t Drink and Drown Campaign from Monday, December 2 until Sunday, December 8.

The main messages of this year’s campaign are for people not to walk home near open water – such as the canals that run through Manchester city-centre – and to stay with their friends after they have been drinking.

Area Manager Damian O’Rourke from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We are pleased to be supporting the latest Don’t Drink and Drown campaign and want to take the opportunity to remind people – especially those out drinking in the run up to Christmas – to take extra care around water.

“Our firefighters are trained in water rescue but sometimes it just isn’t possible to get to people in time to save them. We have sadly seen too many people drown in Greater Manchester, with many incidents happening in the canals in the city-centre.

“If you are out enjoying drinks with your friends please never walk along the canals alone and always try and plan your journey home at the start of your night out. It’s also really important to stay together, and if a friend has had one too many then do the right thing and help them to get home safe.”

Following the death of 19-year-old Charlie Pope in March 2018 in Manchester, his father, Nick Pope, has been working closely with the Manchester Water Safety Partnership. Earlier this year barriers were installed along the stretch of canal where Charlie drowned, with the fencing now directing people to cross the canal using an existing footbridge.

Nick attended a student safety event in Manchester on the evening of Thursday, November 28, 2019, organised and led by Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser Sacha Lord and attended by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.

Sacha Lord, Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, said: “For the first time all four universities came together to discuss safety for students with a view to creating a Student Safety Charter – which will launch initially at the four Universities across our city-region, with the view to spread it further amongst colleges and other forms of higher education.”

Nick Pope said: “It was a really worthwhile event, which was such a success due to the large attendance, great engagement and searching questions. This can only result in better safety for the students and citizens of Manchester.”

Over the last five years there have been 1,481 accidental deaths in the UK and more than 30 per cent of the victims were found to have alcohol and/or drugs in their bloodstream.

The Don’t Drink and Drown campaign gives essential advice to party-goers to make sure they know how to stay safe when they’re out celebrating.

Follow activity running on social media #DontDrinkAndDrown

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Canal barriers ‘can save lives’

Barriers installed along a canal where a 19-year-old student was found dead will help save lives, his father said.

Nick Pope, whose son Charlie died when he fell into a Manchester canal in March 2018, said he hoped the fencing would “keep people safe in Manchester”.

“Everybody is responsible for their own personal safety but accidents can happen… I firmly believe it will save lives,” said Mr Hope.

The fence will direct people to cross the canal using an existing footbridge.

Charlie, from Ponteland in Northumberland, died after going missing during a night out.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s Station Manager David Wilson, who is the Chair of the Manchester Water Safety Partnership, said: “The Manchester Water Safety Partnership was formed in 2015 in response to several deaths in central Manchester waterways, with the group represented by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Greater Manchester Police, Manchester City Council, Canal & River Trust, CityCo, the Royal Life Saving Society UK and Peel Holdings. We all meet regularly and work together to help make Manchester’s waterways safer – with the focus on the city-centre, where sadly a number of people have lost their lives over the years.

“The installation of the barriers in key areas along the city-centre canals is a huge step forward to improve water safety for the public of Greater Manchester. Nick Pope, whose son, Charlie, drowned in the city-centre following a night out, deserves great credit for the way he has worked tirelessly to improve water safety over the past year. I would also like to add my personal thanks to everybody who works in and supports the Partnership who have shown an absolute commitment to improving water safety in the city-centre.”

Read about summer water safety advice.

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Safety warnings as temperatures soar

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is urging people to stay safe near water with temperatures set to soar this weekend.

Temperatures could go above 30 degrees this weekend and while we want people to enjoy the hot weather, everyone is asked to do so safely and responsibly.

People are being urged to never swim in open water, as while it may seem like a tempting way to cool off, the drop in temperature can cause shock and increase breathing rate. Muscles will stiffen and fatigue will set in very quickly, making it impossible to swim to safety, even for the strongest of swimmers.

Unknown risks, such as rocks and broken bottles can also be hidden beneath the water and there is often no supervision by lifeguards to help if you if you do get in trouble.

GMFRS Area Manager Damian O’Rourke said: “When it comes to swimming in open water, our message is simple – don’t do it. We know that when it is hot it can be tempting, but is not worth the risk.

“Please go out and enjoy the sunny weather this weekend but don’t put your own or anyone else’s safety at risk. If someone does get into trouble, don’t try and rescue them yourself, but dial 999.”

Read more summer safety advice.

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Orlando Nyero

The family of Orlando Nyero have paid tribute to the ‘caring’ university student, a year after he was found in the Rochdale Canal.

His death in June 2018, along with that of Charlie Pope earlier in the year, helped prompt a campaign calling for a review into safety around Manchester’s waterways.

In a statement his family said: “Orlando you meant so much to us, you cared about everybody and always wanted to help.

“Your smile alone warmed us, your laugh was like music to our ears and you always brighten up the darkest days. Life can never be the same for us without you, we miss your smile, jokes and how caring you were.

“We are left with your beautiful memories, your love is still our guide, although we cannot see you, you are always at our side. It is so hard to describe the amount of pain we experience as a family daily.

“Not a second passes when you’re not in our minds. We weep everyday because the pain is unbearable. But we know that goodbyes are not forever.

“Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean we missed you, until we meet again in heaven. We love and missed you so much Orlando.”

The Royal Life Saving Society UK give the following safety advice about nights out and avoiding water:

  • Look out for each other when you’ve had a few drinks and make sure you walk home with friends
  • Plan your journey home before you go out
  • Don’t walk home alongside the water after a night out. Find a better route home
  • Make sure your friends get home safely after a night out. Don’t let them walk by the water

Read more.

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Drowning Prevention Week

National Drowning Prevention Week is being marked with a host of activities scheduled by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) staff members, to promote safety in and around our waterways.

The dedicated week of action runs from April 29 to May 5 this year – led by the National Fire Chiefs’ Council and supported by fire and rescue services all over the UK.

In the coming weeks there will be three reach-poles installed along the Rochdale Canal, each at or close by to where someone has lost their life through drowning, as part of a partnership including a number or organisations, including GMFRS, Manchester City Council and the Canal and River Trust.

The installation of the poles will follow on from an ongoing initiative, where throwline boards are being installed at a number of reservoirs across Greater Manchester – to help those who find themselves in the water and also provide information which is given to control operators when 999 is dialled – allowing them to send firefighters to the exact location. As part of the initiative, throw-lines will be installed next week in Gorton.

GMFRS staff members and volunteers will  be getting involved in a student-focused event hosted by CityCo in St Ann’s Square in Manchester City Centre on Thursday, May 2, between 10am and 4pm – speaking with attendees to help prevent them getting into trouble around water.

Area Manager Damian O’Rourke from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We are really pleased to be supporting Drowning Prevention Week again this year and want to take this is an opportunity to highlight the dangers of water and of the fantastic work our staff members and volunteers do keeping people safe.

“Our firefighters are trained in water rescue but sometimes it just isn’t possible to get to people in time to save them. We have sadly seen 17 people drown Greater Manchester in the last three years alone, with many others suffering injuries.

“As the warmer weather approaches we want to remind people about the dangers that come with swimming in reservoirs and other open water and also about taking care when out and about around canals – such as those in Manchester City Centre, which have sadly claimed too many lives. Please don’t walk alone along canals and always try and plan your journey home at the start of your night out.”

Councillor Nigel Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “As well as installing new equipment to boost safety along our city centre canals, Manchester’s Water Safety Partnership is working hard to ensure that people understand the waterways and how to keep themselves safe.  I’d encourage everyone to take advantage of the events with our firefighters, which will help you to steer clear of danger by becoming water aware.”

Follow social media activity during the week using the hashtag #BeWaterAware

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