River safety

Don't jump into the unknown!

Scene of a river and bridge with a drowning warning sign

As temperatures rise, you may be tempted to cool off with a swim in local rivers, but did you know that 40% of drowning deaths in the UK occur in rivers and streams?

What are the risks?

  • 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
  • Undercurrents can drag you under and keep you under
  • Head and Spinal injuries from hidden objects such as rocks, trees and even shopping trolleys!
  • Infection from open cuts or swallowing water

Keep yourself safe:

  • Always keep within your depth
  • Be sure that the river is safe. Give yourself an easy route in and out of the water, look for currents, fast moving water and make sure it's not too deep.
  • Never dive in or swim alone
  • Don’t swim near weirs, once caught in the undertow, you have little chance of escape
  • Beware of weeds – you can get tangled and trapped in weeds growing at the bottom of the river
  • Don’t swim after drinking alcohol or taking drugs

What to do if somebody is in trouble:

  • Think, do not put yourself in danger. Do not enter the water or jump in

  • Shout for help, ring 999 and request the Fire and Rescue Service

  • Reach, if it’s safe to do so, try and 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 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.

Murky riverbed with rusty shopping trolley