With the peak season for ‘bravado swims’ in full flow, a hard-hitting campaign that warns thrill-seekers of the dangers of the River Thames has been launched.
The national drowning awareness campaign, ‘Respect the Water’, highlights the risks of drowning around tidal reaches of the River Thames and coasts across the country. It has been launched in Richmond upon Thames by the RNLI in partnership with Richmond Council, the Police, London Fire Brigade, and Thames Water.
Latest fatality figures reveal 15 people accidentally lost their lives in the River Thames last year. The number of near-misses was even higher, with 16 lives being saved and 344 people being rescued by the RNLI’s London lifeboat crews.
For those entering the water, intentionally or otherwise, cold water shock is a significant danger. Despite the warm summer air temperatures, the temperature of the Thames is cold enough year-round to trigger cold water shock. The average temperature of the Thames is just 12c, but the cold water shock can set in at any temperature below 15c. It causes uncontrollable gasping, which draws water into the lungs and can lead to drowning.
Richmond upon Thames is one of nine locations that have been chosen for the Respect the Water campaign in London. Targeted safety advice specific to the Richmond area is now on display at key locations along the Thames. It includes outdoor posters and displays, radio and online, as well as pint glasses and bar runners printed with safety advice in selected riverside pubs. The RNLI will also display a one tonne cubic metre of water during the campaign to help people realise how heavy a relatively small volume of water is.
Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Fleming, said:
“Respect the Water is about trying to make people realise that they are at risk from drowning if they don’t follow some basic but important safety information. Of course the Council wants people to enjoy the river but we want them to understand there are risks, and that they should not underestimate the power of the water.”
For more information, contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or visit their website at www.RNLI.org
(image courtesy of RNLI)
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