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New film gives southwest London teens life-saving warning around swimming in the Thames

20 July 2023

Richmond Council, in partnership with the Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station and London Fire Brigade Richmond, has released a new film to raise awareness around water safety for young people.

Riverside hotspots throughout Richmond upon Thames, including Teddington Lock, are popular with young people from across southwest London looking to cool off during warm weather. In 2022, 14-year-old Brian Sasu lost his life jumping into the River Thames from a bridge at Tagg’s Island, Hampton.

Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “The tragic loss of Brian last year was a stark reminder of just how dangerous the Thames can be. There is a lot of information we need young people to be aware of to ensure they can stay safe, but the key things are to how to help yourself if you get into difficulty and what to do to help someone else.

“I am grateful to everyone in our borough who continues to support this awareness campaign, particularly Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station and London Fire Brigade, and I now implore young people to watch this film and for parents, guardians and teachers to help us make sure everyone knows what the risks are and what to do in an emergency.”

Cold water shock is one of the biggest risks of swimming in the River Thames, even in summer. The human body can go into shock in anything under 15°C. If this happens, you lose control of your breathing and movement, and it can also cause your heart rate and blood pressure to quickly increase, which can lead to cardiac arrest.

Matt Allchurch, Lifeboat Operations Manager, Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station, said: "The River Thames can present many dangers to river users and we are delighted to be part of this initiative with the Council which will help people to enjoy the river safely. If you do see someone in danger in the water, dial 999 and ask for the Emergency Services."

Rob Davies, Richmond Borough Commander from London Fire Brigade, said: “We want people to enjoy the water safely; so, take note of signage and do not enter the water where it is not safe to do so. The River Thames may look calm on the surface, but it has many hidden risks including unpredictable currents, objects beneath the surface and as the temperature varies considerably, a great risk of cold water shock. If you see someone in difficulty, please whatever you do, do not go in after them – call 999 and ask for the Emergency Services.”

You can watch the film below or on our YouTube channel.

Find out more about water safety and how to enjoy the Thames safely.

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Up to: July 2023

Updated: 15 August 2023

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