CHILDREN are being urged to stay safe around water when they are out and about playing this summer.
The Environment Agency has issued a warning to all youngsters planning to hang out, go fishing or cycling by their local rivers over the holidays to be aware of the dangers posed by fast currents, weirs and locks, cold water and unstable riverbanks.
Water claims the lives of 50 children a year in the UK, with many accidents occurring when youngsters overestimate their swimming ability or swim unsupervised.
The Environment Agency manages some 1,000km of inland waterway across the country and as part of its role issues safety advice to help reduce the number of fatalities.
Phil Younge, area manager for the Environment Agency, said: “Drowning is the third most common accidental death among Britain’s under 16s, behind road accidents and house fires.
“We have worked hard to raise awareness among young children about the dangers of swimming in rivers through campaigns such as ‘Don’t Go In’. We’re also linked up with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents to produce the teaching pack ‘R U A Dummy 2?’ to help adults to educate youngsters about the risks and promote the water safety message.
“However, the statistics show there is still work to do to get the message across that the hazards are often hidden, and underestimating the dangers of water can have tragic consequences.”
More than half of all drownings occur in rivers, canals, lakes and pools every year.