The Environment Agency has issued a summer safety warning - urging people to take more care near water.

One of the dangers it highlights is jumping off bridges along the Thames which "may seem like great fun, [but] there are hidden dangers in the water that can cause tragic consequences."

And the agency urges swimmers to use pools and lidos instead of the Thames.

The EA sais: "As the navigation authority for the non-tidal stretch of the river – from Cricklade in Wiltshire to south west London - the [agency] is asking parents and guardians to warn children and young people about the dangers of playing by its locks, weirs, bridges, and anywhere else in and around the Thames.

"The overall message is clear: vigilance can save lives and water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe."

Experience shows that it is often young people who get into trouble whilst swimming in open water. Water can contain hazards, particularly in and around structures such as locks, weirs and bridges. .

Russell Robson, Waterways Operations Team Leader for the Environment Agency said:"The summer is always a busy time on our rivers, and we expect the River Thames to be a focal point for a lot of people’s leisure time, whether out in a boat, taking a dip, or just hanging out by the riverside.

"But we are urging parents and guardians to supervise younger children closely in and around water. Teenagers and young adults should be warned of the dangers and to remember some basic safety points when out having fun.

“One of the main risks is cold-water shock, which can have a dramatic effect on your body, such as causing you to breathe in water, make your muscles weaken, and can even cause your heart to go into abnormal rhythms, ultimately resulting in death. You also have no idea what’s beneath the surface of the water: there could be unseen currents and reeds, which could pull you under.

“In an ideal world, no one would get on or in the river alone, so there would be someone around to help if they did get into any difficulties. And anyone out in any kind of boat should wear a lifejacket, just in case.

“As for swimming in the Thames, we’d really rather people didn’t do it unless it’s part of an organised and supervised event. Swimming should be confined to swimming pools and lidos”.

Top tips are:

  • 1.      Don't jump or dive in as the depth may vary and there can be unseen hazards.
  • 2.      Don't go in near weirs, locks, pipes and sluices. These and some other water features are often linked with strong currents.
  • 3.      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.
  • 4.      Keep a look out for boat traffic. Boaters especially on larger boats can find it very hard to spot and therefore avoid swimmers.  Wear a bright swim cap and keep tucked into the river banks.

The agency has provided information to consider when planning your days out and holidays, whilst still having fun and being safe. The advice can be used for all waterbodies and not just the Thames. Check out :


Story dated July 25th 2016