Following World Drowning Prevention Day last week (Monday 25 July), Bath and North East Somerset Council is urging people to stay safe and be aware of the dangers of open water swimming during the summer holidays.
Summer is one of the most popular times for people to visit Britain’s canals and rivers, and with the recent warm weather wild swimming is expected to be more popular than ever.
However, open water swimming can have hidden dangers such as increased risk of stomach bugs, diarrhoea, and vomiting, as well as the risk of getting into difficulty in the water.
Therefore, the council is asking people to keep themselves safe by heeding local safety signage that warns of the dangers associated with open water swimming including strong currents, hidden underwater debris, and jumping off bridges, and to follow these top tips:
- If you can’t swim – don’t go in the water
- Don’t swim on your own
- Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming
- Beware of underwater obstacles and potential strong currents in rivers
- Stay calm, float, and call for help if you get into trouble
- Check the water quality information at www.gov.uk/quality-of-local-bathing-water
- Avoid bathing on higher risk days such as after heavy rainfall
- Cover cuts with a waterproof plaster and consider a wetsuit
- Avoid swallowing or splashing water into your mouth
- Clean your hands with soap after swimming
- Use sun cream even if it’s a cloudy day
Saltford Parish Council regularly urges people to take care if visiting Saltford’s river and river side areas. Please visit SPC’s Visitor Information page and River Avon in Saltford page. The latter links to SPC’s pages on:
- River safety information and advice
- River water quality at Saltford
- SPC’s river safety actions
- Tragedies at Saltford Weir
In 2021 there were 277 deaths in the UK from accidental water fatalities, and almost two thirds of these happened at inland waters such as canals, rivers, lakes, quarries and reservoirs. On average, historically a person dies in the River Avon in Saltford every two years.
A spokesperson for Avon Fire & Rescue Service said: “We see too many people in difficulty in the water, and sadly, this can lead to life-changing injuries and even death. We would urge anyone thinking of entering the water to remember the hidden dangers and heed local safety advice.”
If someone is in trouble, don’t enter the water to rescue – stay on land and make the right call instead. Call 999 and ask for Fire & Rescue if you are inland or ask for the coastguard if you are at the coast. Meanwhile, encourage the person to stay calm, tell them to float on their back and throw them something that floats.”
The poster (copy below) on ways to keep safe when swimming in open water will be displayed by Saltford Weir soon. Swimming near weirs is particularly dangerous due to strong under-currents that can pull even the strongest swimmers under. Sadly Saltford Weir has been the location of many tragic accidents.