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Water safety warning for children this Easter weekend

3 minute read
Water safety warning for children this Easter weekend

Published at 7:00am 20th April 2019.

School’s out for Easter, and there is no better time to enjoy the beauty of the River Thames than over the holidays...

But the Environment Agency is asking parents and guardians to warn children and young people about the dangers of playing by its locks, weirs, bridges.

Top tips for river safety:

  1. Don't jump or dive in as the depth may vary and there can be unseen hazards.
  2. Don't go in near weirs, locks, pipes and sluices. These and some other water features are often linked with strong currents.
  3. Inland waters can be very cold, no matter how warm the weather. Those going into cold water can get cramp and experience breathing difficulties very quickly.
  4. Keep a look out for boat traffic. Boaters, especially on larger vessels, can find it very hard to spot and, therefore, avoid swimmers.  Wear a bright swim cap and keep tucked into the river banks.

Parents and guardians can help keep children in their care safe by:

  • Teaching them to swim
  • Warning them not to go into water alone, or unsupervised
  • Ensuring they know where the children are and what they are doing
  • Supervising them closely when near any open water

Drowning can occur very quickly, even in shallow water, and the key to keeping safe is to take all necessary precautions to avoid getting into difficulty in the first place.

Russell Robson, River Thames operations manager for the Environment Agency, said:

“One of the main risks is cold-water shock, which can have a dramatic effect on your body, such as causing you to breathe in water, make your muscles weaken, and can even cause your heart to go into abnormal rhythms, ultimately resulting in death.

"You also have no idea what’s beneath the surface of the water: there could be unseen currents and reeds, which could pull you under.

“In an ideal world, no-one would get on or in the river alone, so there would be someone around to help if they did get into any difficulties. Anyone out in any kind of boat should wear a lifejacket, just in case.

“As for swimming in the Thames, we’d really rather people didn’t do it unless it’s part of an organised and supervised event. Swimming should be confined to swimming pools and lidos.”

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