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Staying safe in open water

28 July 2022

Monday 25 July was World Drowning Prevention Day. The Council joined forces with the London Fire Brigade, the RNLI, Met Police and Achieving for Children's Project X at a water safety event at Teddington Lock.

Local parents and children came down to learn more about the risks of swimming in the Thames and what to do when someone gets into difficulties.

The Thames is a dangerous river. It has a strong current, with houseboats in many areas, as well as moving river traffic, that pose dangers to anyone swimming in the river. It is full of debris including sharp metal, shopping trollies and other items that can cause serious risk to life if hit when jumping from bridges. There is also a risk of cold-water shock, as parts of the Thames remain very cool even in this hot weather.

Float to Live

The RNLI has five simple steps that could save your life if you get into difficulties in the water:

  • If you're struggling in the water fight the urge to thrash around
  • Lean back - extend your arms and legs
  • Gently move them around to help you float if you need to
  • Float until you can control your breathing
  • Only then, call 999 or 112 for help or swim to safety

Cold water shock

When in cold water (anything below 15°C), your body can go into cold water shock. If this happens, you lose control of your breathing and movement. Cold water shock also causes your heart rate and blood pressure to quickly increase, which can lead to cardiac arrest.

The average sea temperature around the UK and Ireland is just 12°C. Inland waters like lakes, rivers, lochs and reservoirs can be colder - even in the summer.

Remember, if you find yourself in difficulty in the water, Float to Live.

Find out more from the RNLI

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Up to: July 2022

Updated: 29 July 2022

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