Stay safe

With summer holidays and hot weather combining, 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 an 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:

Stay safe:

  • 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

Stay well:

  • 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

Councillor Dine Romero, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Communities, said: “Our rivers and canals can look really inviting, but you can’t always tell what’s below the surface – or what’s in the water. If you do go into a river, lake or canal it’s vital to follow safety advice.”

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 (1).

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.”