Water Users Urged to be Safe
Active and adventurous people in Cornwall are being advised by The Environment Agency to take more care whilst doing activities in and around the water.
The Environment Agency advises anyone planning to go swimming, fishing, cycling or simply hanging out with friends down by their local river over the summer holidays, to be more aware of the dangers posed by fast-currents, cold water, structures such as weirs and locks, and unstable riverbanks.
“Each year around 50 children under the age of 16 drown. It is the third most common cause of accidental death amongst young people. As the school holidays approach children need to be especially aware of the risks,” said Nick Gupta, Area Manager of the Environment Agency.
The Environment Agency promotes the use of water for recreation purposes but also wants to warn of the dangers.
“Water may look safe, but it can be dangerous. Young people may swim well in a warm indoor pool, but that does not mean that they will be able to swim in cold water,” added Nick Gupta.
The dangers of water include:
• The speed of many rivers and sea currents are often well beyond the ability of even the strongest swimmers to cope with safely
• Unseen underwater obstructions exist in many places. These can include submerged pipe outfalls and discarded items such as shopping trolleys.
• Other hazards such as broken glass and metal that have been illegally dumped can cut and injure. Weeds can also trap the unwary swimmer.
• Weirs, locks, piers and other structures demand extra care from users and visitors.
Young people may be able to help themselves and others if they know what to do in an emergency. If they see someone in difficulty, they are urged to tell somebody, preferably a Lifeguard, or go to the nearest telephone, dial 999, ask for the Police at inland water sites and the Coastguard at the beach.
Other tips on the leaflet include:
• Don’t jump or dive into rivers or open water where the depth is uncertain. If you cannot see the bottom it may just be that the water is not clear.
• Be aware of the dangers of structures
• Be prepared for cold water or changes in weather
• Make sure you are supervised by an adult
• Don’t swim where there may be strong currents and undertows
The Environment Agency manages some 1,000km of inland waterway across England and Wales and issues safety advice as part of its role to encourage everyone to enjoy these rivers as well as coastal waters wisely.
The message is clear: Please take care when in, on and around water.