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Winter Safety




Take Care by the Water this Winter

Now the winter weather is here and with the Christmas holiday season 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 visitors to take extra care near water.

London’s waterways are a year-round retreat for millions of tourists, walkers, anglers, boaters and cyclists, and a great place to blow away the post-Christmas cobwebs.  However, the wintry weather also brings with it hazards, causing slippery towpaths, embankments, walkways and piers.  Furthermore, some waterways can freeze over.

People should not attempt to enter the water at any time of year but strong winter floodwaters and low water temperatures are particularly hazardous.  Ice can also be extremely dangerous and people should on no account attempt to stand on it.

Ice is a particular danger to young people. They may not appreciate that although it may appear thick enough to take their weight at the edge  - it gets thinner and weaker with every step towards the middle.

Dog owners should also be extra vigilant and keep their dogs under control.  Ice and flood conditions are hazardous to all, both people and animals.

Francesca Morrison, Safer Waterways for London coordinator, said:  “We want to encourage people to visit their local waterway this Christmas but we want them to enjoy their visit and be safe.  We particularly ask that parents accompany children.”

Thames Water has added its voice to the winter warning since the company has many open areas of water, including reservoirs, water treatment works and sewage treatment works.  These contain areas of deep water as well as steep drops and moving machinery and it is imperative that they are treated with respect and not used as play areas, makeshift skating rinks or short cuts.

The Environment Agency’s Thames Waterway team is also issuing an important ‘don’t drink and dive’ warning to partygoers over Christmas and New Year.  The festive season often sees casualties when people jump from bridges into the River Thames whist under the influence of alcohol.

London has a fantastic network of waterways including the River Thames, the Rivers Lee and Stort, the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals and the Docklands. They offer great places to visit over winter and, used safely, they can provide enjoyment for everyone.

Remember to be SAFE:

  • Stay
  • Away
  • From the
  • Edge

When faced with someone falling through ice the Metropolitan Police Marine Support Unit advises the following:

  • When the ice breaks the person standing on it often falls to the bottom and stays there. Do not go onto the ice. Call the emergency services on the 999 system. If the water is not too deep the casualty’s head may be above the surface, immediate assistance may be rendered with a household ladder held from the bank over the ice to the casualty in the water.

- ends -

Notes to editors

  • Between them, British Waterways London, Thames Water, the Environment Agency, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and the Port of London Authority manage London’s waterway network.  They have come together with the London Home and Water Safety Council to highlight the importance of being safe around the water.
  • Safer Waterways for London is a partnership aiming to promote safe practice on London’s waterways.  The partners involved are British Waterways London, London’s Waterway Partnership, Lea Rivers Trust, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the Environment Agency and Thames Water. 

For media information contact:
Rosemary Beazley, British Waterways London, Tel. 020 7432 8327  M.  07884 238912