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Canal and River Trust charity's plea to teens to stay out of the water during the summer holidays



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As temperatures rise, one charity is urging teenagers to stay safe and stay out of the water this summer, writes Paridhi Mathur.

Summer is one of the most popular times for people to visit Britain’s canals and rivers and the Canal & River Trust is expecting many of its waterways to be particularly popular over the coming days.

The Trust, which looks after 266 miles of waterways, is urging teenagers to stay out of canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks during the summer holidays for their safety and to avoid unnecessary or potentially life threatening injuries.

Life-saving equipment has been installed along the Kennet and Avon Canal in Newbury
Life-saving equipment has been installed along the Kennet and Avon Canal in Newbury

To raise awareness about the potential desperate consequences of young people jumping into locks from bridges, the Trust has launched a new fictional film about the guilt a teenager feels when his friend drowns in a lock after he encouraged him to jump in.

Mark Evans, of the Canal & River Trust, said: “The canals and rivers are lovely relaxing places to spend time during the warm weather, but it’s important that children and teenagers are aware of the dangers of cooling off by going for a dip with friends.”

He said “the consequences can be devastating” as the risks are hidden under the surface.

In 2021, 62 per cent of accidental water-related deaths happened at inland waters such as canals, rivers, lakes, quarries and reservoirs, the trust added.

“Inland waterways, like canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks can look really inviting but you can’t tell what is below the surface," added Mr Evans.

“The water often isn’t clear and you won’t be able to see the depth or any obstacles in the water, and even on a hot day the water can be extremely cold.”

The Kennet and Avon Canal
The Kennet and Avon Canal

With the extreme weather warning and prolonged heatwave across England continuing throughout next week, the Environment Agency and Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service are also reminding people not to take unnecessary risks while trying to cool off, and to always make sure family and friends stay safe.

Russell Robson, waterways team leader for the Environment Agency, said: "The summer is always a busy time on our rivers, and we expect the River Thames to be a focal point for a lot of people’s leisure time.

"We are urging parents to supervise their children closely in and around water and make sure they do not go into the water alone.

"Take any warning or safety signs seriously, stick to proper pathways, look out for trip or slip hazards around water, and stay a safe distance from the edge of river banks and cliff edges.”

As temperatures rise, one charity is urging teenagers to stay safe and stay out of the water this summer
As temperatures rise, one charity is urging teenagers to stay safe and stay out of the water this summer

Neil Whiteman, safety education co-ordinator at Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “Over the last year, we have massively stepped up our work with local authorities and the Environment Agency to improve safety along Berkshire’s waterways.

"The main thing to be aware of when entering the water is cold water shock, which can catch even the best swimmers off guard.

"It’s also important to note that, when jumping into water, you may not see what’s hidden below. Shopping trollies, scrap metal and wooden splinters are just a few items that could cause serious injury or trap you under the water.”

The Trust has also created a water safety programme, the Canal & River Trust Explorers, for younger children. It aims to help them learn about and enjoy their local canal or river safely.

To find out more, visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/explorers.

The Canal & River Trust has put together a list of recommendations for World Drowning Prevention Day, which this year is on Monday, July 25, to help young people enjoy the rivers – without getting in.

The Kennet and Avon Canal
The Kennet and Avon Canal

 Canal and river water will be really cold, even in the summer, and immersion 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 seriously hurt yourself if you jump from a bridge, while locks are a lot deeper than expected.

 Lounge in the shade of waterside trees, rather than get tangled in waterway reeds.

 Have an ice cream at a waterside café.

 Keep your cool – chill out by the water and enjoy the feeling of peacefulness it brings you.

The Trust recommends that anyone wanting to swim should "go to a pool or find an open water swimming club" - which are listed on its website.



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