Environment Agency in water safety education drive

Environment Agency in water safety education drive

The Environment Agency has been involved in warning children about the dangers of open water, following a number of reports of children playing on weirs.

Staff recently carried out visits to local schools in south west Derbyshire to educate pupils about water safety.

During the talks schoolchildren learned that some of the dangers of open water are not always obvious, including strong underwater currents and sudden changes in water depth. They were also given information about how they could avoid these risks by taking note of warning signs, not walking or climbing on weirs and avoiding swimming near weirs, locks, bridges or other structures on rivers.

Emma Smailes, Operations Manager from the Environment Agency said:

“We would encourage parents and guardians to speak to their children, teenagers and young adults to warn them about the dangers and basic safety points when out having fun.”

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), in the UK around 400 people die from drowning every year as a result of an accident in or around water. Many of these deaths are as a result of simple everyday mistakes, such as a trip or fall into water, or misjudgments such as underestimating the effect of swimming in cold open water unprepared can have. Others result from inherently risky activities including jumping/tombstoning from a great height into water.

David Walker, Leisure Safety Manager at RoSPA, said:

“At this time of year it’s especially important for parents to have a conversation with their family about the risks of open water, particularly in the areas where it’s prevalent.

“Many of the risks aren’t obvious, such as weirs, and the effects of cold water shock. It’s important to think about this in advance so that if, on the rare occasion, you see someone in trouble or get into trouble yourself, you know what to do.”

In 1973, the Central Office of Information produced ‘The Dark & Lonely Water’, a harrowing Public Information film which aimed to send a message to young people about the dangers of playing near open water.

More information about water safety is available from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

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