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.