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The Canal and River Trust urges you to stay water safe this summer

Original article: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/news-and-views/news/we-urge-you-to-stay-water-safe-this-summer

With swimming pools across the country closed, we urge young people not to be tempted to cool down in open water this summer. Water temperatures can be extremely cold causing even the strongest swimmers to get into trouble and there are often hidden risks under the surface of the water.

Foxton Locks in the sunshineFoxton Locks on a sunny day

With swimming pools closed due to coronavirus, and with the summer weather ahead, we are urging young people not to take a risk by swimming in canals, rivers, reservoirs and other open waters.

Alternative ways to stay cool this summer

The warm summer months are the most popular times for people to visit Britain’s canals and rivers; however if anyone is thinking of going into the water, please don’t; people can get into difficulties after jumping into the water to cool down. Canal and river water will be very cold, even in the summer, which can take your breath away and paralyse your muscles, making it difficult to swim, and it will often hide dangerous obstacles or currents.

We are welcoming people to the waterside but is highlighting other ways to cool down that avoid getting in the water:

  • Lounge in the shade of waterside trees rather than getting tangled in waterway reeds.
  • Keep your cool – chill out on the bank and enjoy the peacefulness of being beside water.
  • If you want to jump and dive, wait for your local swimming pool to open, don’t get in locks or canals which can be shallow and have obstructions below the waterline.

It’s important to stay safe

Julie Sharman, our chief operating officer, explains: “Spending time by the water is a lovely way to spend a summer’s day and our canals, rivers and reservoirs are excellent places for families to visit and cool down. But it’s really important that people, especially children and teenagers, are aware of the dangers of going into the water. Taking a dip may be tempting but the consequences can be devastating.

“Inland waterways 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, cool drink or stay in the shade, but please don’t get in the water, it’s just not worth it.”

Our water saftey programme

Our ‘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. Dozens of volunteers nationwide normally help the Trust each year by visiting schools and speaking to youth groups about water safety and their local canal or river.

In four years they have reached more than 125,000 children with water safety messages, however this summer sessions have been impacted by the coronavirus lockdown.

To help with water safety education at home the Explorers team has compiled a range of free activities, resources and games which can be found on our Explorers website.

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