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19.07.2005

Enjoy Waterways Safely This Summer

 

 

 

Now the school summer holidays are approaching, British Waterways London, Thames Water, the Port of London Authority, the Environment Agency, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the Metropolitan Police Marine Support Unit and the London Home and Water Safety Council have joined forces to remind people not to swim in canals, rivers, docks and reservoirs.  Thames Water also stresses the importance of not trespassing onto sewage and water treatment works.

Canals, rivers, docks and reservoirs may look inviting on a warm day but everyone should resist the temptation to enter them, especially when under the influence of alcohol.  The water will remain extremely cold even on a hot day and the resulting shock can swiftly weaken even the strongest swimmer.  Plant growth and steep banks can make it difficult to get out again and there can also be objects hidden under the surface which pose a danger, as do currents created by passing boats and water movements. In other places deep silt and mud can trap the unwary.  The waterways are also home to naturally occurring organisms, not found in swimming pools, that can cause stomach upsets, and other illnesses and are not supervised by lifeguards.

Brian Coleman, President of the London Home & Water Safety Council, explains: “Millions of Londoner’s enjoy the city’s wonderful network of canals, rivers and docks every summer. During the hot summer months and especially during the school holidays, we want to make it absolutely clear it is not safe to go in the water.  There are many safe and fun waterside activities people can take part in without risking their lives.”

Francesca Morrison, Safer Waterways for London training and development officer, says: “Our biggest concern in the summer is with people, particularly children and young adults, sometimes thinking it’s a good idea to swim in waterways to cool down.  We’ve been working hard over the last few years to get the safety message out to children and parents, stressing people stay away from the edge, that children must be accompanied by an adult and swimming must be confined to recognised and supervised swimming areas such as swimming pools and beaches with life guards.” 

London has a fantastic network of waterways including the River Thames, the Rivers Lee and Stort, the Grand Union and Regent’s canals and London’s Docklands.  They are a popular retreat during summer and used safely can provide enjoyment for everyone, remember to follow the water safety rule and be SAFE (Stay Away From the Edge).

Between them, British Waterways, Thames Water, the Environment Agency, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and the Port of London Authority manage London’s waterways and rivers.  They have come together to highlight the importance of being safe around the water, an issue of particular significance during the summer months.

Safer Waterways for London is a partnership aiming to promote safe practice on London’s waterways.  The partners involved are British Waterways London, Lea Rivers Trust, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the Environment Agency and Thames Water.  Since it started Safer Waterways for London has delivered water safety training and activities to over 11,500 young people, worked with over 50 community groups and voluntary organisations and has contributed to 32 community safety initiatives.

For more information about water safety training email fran.morisson@leariverstrust.co.uk and for more information about waterway events visit www.waterscape.com.

Ends

For media information contact:

Debbie Walker, British Waterways London:  Tel 020 7985 7227 Mobile 07733 124580