Don’t swim in open water urges Hounslow Council

Hounslow Council is urging residents and visitors to the borough not to swim in open water, such as rivers, lakes, ponds and canals. Please put your own safety first.

Published: Thursday, 21st July 2022

photo of lifebuoy at Gunnersby Park
Stay Safe: Please stay out of open water.

Stay safe - stay out of the water.

This is the message from Hounslow Council’s community safety and parks teams as they remind residents about the dangers of swimming in the borough’s rivers, lakes, and ponds.

Hounslow has some of the most picturesque open water areas in London, which regularly attract visitors from across the borough and beyond.

And while in the hot weather there may a temptation to dive in, there are dangers just below the surface such as water plants, branches and strong currents which could leave any swimmer in difficulty.

Each year, an average of 400 people die in an accident in or around water, according to figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA).

During the recent heatwave, safety chiefs say they have seen an increase in the number of incidents involving open water across the country.

Monday, 25 July marks the World Health Organisation’s (WHO), World Drowning Prevention Day. Hounslow Council is supporting the campaign by raising awareness about the danger of open water swimming.

With the school summer holidays now upon us, the Council is urging everyone to enjoy Hounslow’s parks and open spaces, but to stay out of the water.

The Council offers the following information on how to stay safe:

  • Do not enter the water – if you want to swim try out your nearest swimming pool.
  • Take care near the water’s edge and make sure children are supervised.
  • Alcohol and water don’t mix – one in three drownings is linked to alcohol consumption.
  • Stay calm – if you do find yourself in the water, remain calm and keep your breathing under control. You can do this by floating on your back or paddling to stay on the surface. If someone else is in difficulty keep talking to them and reassure them.
  • Get help – Call 999 and ask for London Fire Brigade and Coast Guard (if on Thames) or ask bystanders to call. Never enter the water to attempt a rescue - your personal safety, in any situation is the number one priority.

Hounslow Council’s Cabinet Member for Safety, Councillor Ajmer Grewal, says: “We appreciate that stretches of open water can be appealing for swimmers, particularly during the hot weather. However, for safety’s sake we would urge visitors to our parks not to enter the water.

“The safety of visitors to Hounslow’s parks and open spaces is of the utmost importance to the Council and its partners. Many of our waterside locations have signs stressing the dangers of entering the water– along with park rangers patrolling the areas on a regular basis.

“Entering the water can induce cold water shock, which can increase your heart rate, speed up your breathing rate and lead to panic. Even the strongest swimmer can come into difficulties if faced with rip currents or strong tidal flows. I would urge every visitor to areas near open water to heed this advice and protect themselves.”

You can find more water safety information on Hounslow Council’s website.

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