Environment Agency
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Warning for Medway users to stay safe for scorching bank holiday

Environment Agency says vigilance can save lives - water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe.

With warmer weather fast approaching, the Environment Agency is reminding people not to take unnecessary risks while trying to cool off and to always make sure family and friends stay safe in and around the River Medway.

The warning comes ahead of a hot bank holiday weekend that might have visitors looking to cool off in the river. Waterways can contain hazards, particularly in and around structures such as bridges, locks and flood channels, as well as dangerous flows after rain and thunderstorms. Unexpectedly cold waters or strong currents can also catch bathers off guard.

Rivers 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.

Jason Adams, a senior waterways officer for the Environment Agency, said:

The bank holiday is looking to be the first really hot weekend of the year, though the waters in the Medway are still bitterly cold.  We’ve had a chilly, wet spring and just last weekend, the water temperature was only 14 degrees centigrade – sudden exposure to this can easily cause cold water shock which can immobilise or even kill.

The summer is always a busy time on our rivers, and we expect the Medway to be a focal point for a lot of people’s leisure time, though we want people to not just enjoy it, but to remember some basic safety points as well.

The key safety points are:

· If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live.

· Lean back and use your arms and legs to help you float, then get control of your breathing before calling for help or swimming to safety.

· If you see someone else in trouble in the water, call 999 or 112. If you are at the coast, ask for the coastguard, if you are inland, ask for the fire service.

Jason Adams continues:

Over the last few years, we have worked hard to get the safety message out to children and parents, stressing that people stay away from the edge, that children must be accompanied by an adult, that water can be colder than it looks and that swimming should be confined to recognised swimming areas, pools and lidos.

We often see youngsters jumping off bridges into the Medway, with Teston Country Park, Maidstone and Anchor sluice and Hampstead Lock being particular hotspots, though there can be 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.

Top water safety tips:

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:

  1. Teaching them to swim
  2. Warning them not to go into water alone, or unsupervised
  3. Ensuring they know where the children are and what they are doing
  4. 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.

Water safety messages are frequently issued by @EnvAgencySE on Twitter over the summer, using the hashtag #RespectTheWater

Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/warning-for-medway-users-to-stay-safe-for-scorching-bank-holiday

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