River safety information and advice - Saltford Parish Council

Avon Fire and Rescue Service state that 40% of drownings happen in rivers and streams. Records show that on average a young person dies in the river at Saltford every two years. There are no lifeguards at the river in Saltford. Avon Fire and Rescue regularly carry out training sessions on the river in Saltford in case their life saving skills are needed.

In 2019, sadly 223 people died in the UK due to accidental drowning and the majority of those were at areas of wild water, including rivers, lakes, beaches and canals. These harrowing statistics highlight the need for local people and visitors to take care when swimming in wild waters or relaxing near the waterfront.

What to do if in difficulty in open water

Please view the RNLI’s ‘Float to Live‘ page. If you find yourself struggling in the water unexpectedly, instincts tell you to swim hard. But cold water shock can make you gasp uncontrollably. Then you could breathe in water and drown. Instead, you should Float to Live. RNLI advice states: “The best way to float is to tilt your head back with your ears submerged. Try to relax and breathe normally. You can gently move your hands to help you stay afloat if you need to. Spread your arms and legs out to improve stability – and it’s OK if your legs sink, we all float differently. Once your breathing is under control, call for help or swim to safety”. A video is also available on the website linked above.

The Royal Lifesaving Society website also has Open Water Safety Tips; Water safety advice for SUP users; Water safety for walkers and runners by the river side; Safety advice for anglers; and much more. Please take a look before visiting Saltford’s river side areas.

SPC thanks the landowner for removing all rope swings from trees in this area, which have previously been the subject of safety concerns. SPC also thanks B&NES Council for putting safety signage around the Bristol to Bath Railway Path (LMS) bridge at the Parish Council’s request, to raise awareness of the dangers of entering the river at this location.

What to do is somebody is in trouble in the water

A list of defibrillators in Saltford is below. Several life rings are located in Saltford, including opposite The Shallows car park (BS31 3EY) and near Saltford Weir on Mead Lane (BS31 3ER).

  • Think, do not put yourself in danger. Do not enter the water or jump in.
  • Shout for help, ring 999 and request the Fire & Rescue Service.
  • If it’s safe to do so, try to reach the person with a stick/pole scarf or any other object. Crouch or lie down to avoid being pulled into the water.
  • Throw designated rescue equipment or a rope if available to pull the person to the bank. Otherwise throw in something that will float this will help keep the person afloat until assistance arrives.

Remember cold water removes heat from the body 32 times faster than cold air causing cold shock – gasping, cramps, inhalation of water, heart attack, stroke and rapid drowning.

Avon Fire and Rescue requested the following to be shared by SPC:

During spells of warm weather, there are those who will put themselves in danger by cooling off in rivers, lakes, reservoirs and marinas, but remember – outdoor swimming can have fatal consequences.

Drownings can happen quickly and without warning and can have a devastating impact.

To ensure you enjoy yourself safely, think about your friends around water – #MatesMatter

Follow these simple steps to stay safe around water:

  • If someone falls into deep water, call 999. If you are near the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland ask for the fire service and ambulance.
  • Never enter the water to try and save someone. This usually ends up adding to the problem. If you go into the water you are likely to suffer from cold water shock, which will leave you unable to help.
  • In an emergency, look around for any lifesaving equipment. Depending on where you are, there might be lifebelts or throw bags – use them. If there is no lifesaving equipment, look at what else you can use. There may be something that can help them stay afloat – even an item such as a ball can help.
  • You could attempt to reach out to someone struggling in water. Clothes such as scarves, or long sticks could be used. If you do this, lie on the ground so your entire body is safely on the edge and reach out with your arm. Don’t stand up or lean over the water.
  • If you manage to get the person out of the water, they will always need medical attention. Even if they seem fine, drowning can occur at a later stage if water has already entered the lungs.
  • When fishing, check that the spot you have chosen is safe. Remember that riverbanks can erode, so let someone know where you are going and have a fully charged phone.
  • Avoid throwing sticks or balls near water for dogs and never enter the water to try and save a dog. Dogs usually manage to scramble out by themselves.
  • Remember that alcohol reduces inhibitions and can mean you take more risks. If you fall into water after drinking, your chances of being able to get out of the water are decreased due to alcohol’s impairment of simple movements.

Due to the hazardous nature of the river and its weirs, every summer Avon Fire and Rescue teams regularly visit Saltford’s river side areas – especially Saltford Weir (Saltford Lock) – to carry out training sessions for their teams, as well as specific visits to engage with users and share information about water safety.

Image above shows an Avon Fire & Rescue training session on the river in Saltford. Photograph used with kind permission of Gennine Blanning (as part of the Saltford Festival 2024 Photography competition).

Information from Avon Fire and Rescue about swimming in open water is available. Be water aware – outdoor swimming advice is also available from the National Fire Chiefs Council. Beware of Cold Water Shock and know what to do if this occurs. B&NES Council have displayed a new sign by Saltford Weir reminding visitors to stay safe and well near open water.

New B&NES Council sign on display by Saltford Weir, the location of many tragic accidents

Defibrillators in Saltford

Defibrillator locations in Saltford are linked here with a map and as follows, please note those ‘on premises’ are accessible only when open, with permission of site owners/managers. 

Davies and Way Estate Agents: Beech Rd side, BS31 3BA, on external wall. What3words/// each.listed.calendars

High St / Mead Lane, BS31 3EJ, on phone box exterior. What3Words/// currently.survive.treetop

Saltford Hall: Wedmore Rd, BS31 3BY, on external wall. What3words/// inspector.buns.dollar

Saltford Sports Club: Wedmore Road, Saltford, BS31 3BY (around the back of Saltford Hall, facing playing fields. Defibrillator located at the front door of the sports club. Access code behind bar or call 999)What 3 Words /// riots.rocks.remedy

Saltford CofE School: Claverton Rd, BS31 3DW, on premises. What3words/// potato.runner.gloves

Saltford Golf Club: Golf Club Lane, BS31 3AA, on premises. What3words/// grazed.roost.meaning

Saltford Rowing Club: Bath Rd, BS31 3JS, on premises. What3words/// quilting.attic.northward (not exact)

Defibrillator Heart Restarter: Anyone can use a defibrillator. No training is necessary. For an unconscious person NOT breathing normally call 999, start CPR, switch on defibrillator, follow its instructions. See this website for a video on how to use a defibrillator

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