When the sun shines and the days are long and warm, there is nothing more idyllic than lazing by a meandering river and dipping your toes in the cooling water, or soaking up the warmth on a sandy beach.
With summer fast approaching the Environment Agency in the South West is reminding people not to take unnecessary risks while trying to cool off, and to always make sure everyone stays safe around water.
The Environment Agency’s warning comes following several reports of young people diving from bridges into rivers in Somerset. There is particular concern for youngsters who have been jumping off the Bow Bridge at Langport.
Water can contain hazards, particularly in and around structures such as bridges, locks and flood channels, as well as dangerous tides along the coast. Unexpectedly cold waters or strong currents can also catch bathers off guard.
Rivers and coasts are great places to have fun, get close to nature and spend time with friends and family, but vigilance can save lives and water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe.
‘The summer is always a busy time on our rivers, and we expect our rivers to be a focal point for a lot of people’s leisure time. We would like people to enjoy the water but to remember some basic safety points when out having fun,’ said John Rowlands for the Environment Agency. ‘We often see youngsters jumping off bridges along many of the rivers in the South West but there are hidden dangers in the water that could cause them to get into difficulties.
‘We are urging parents to supervise their children closely in and around water and make sure they do not go into the water alone. Come and enjoy the river and all that is going on around it, but please remember to bring your common sense with you as well,’ added John Rowlands.
Meanwhile, South West Water and Wessex Water are reminding people that swimming is not permitted at any of its reservoirs.
The Environment Agency has provided some information to consider when planning your days out and holidays, whilst still having fun and being safe:
Don't jump or dive in as the depth may vary and there can be unseen hazards.
Don't go in near weirs, locks, pipes and sluices. These and some other water features are often linked with strong currents.
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.
Most importantly, 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
Remember 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.