River warning after drowning death toll rises

Rivers can be tempting in hot weather but can pose a danger to swimmers, particularly after heavy rain.
Rivers can be tempting in hot weather but can pose a danger to swimmers, particularly after heavy rain.

A leading charity has advised people to steer clear of the Angus rivers which have become even more dangerous after recent heavy rain.

The Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) warning follows 20 drowning-related deaths in the UK over the last month as people attempted to cool off during hot weather.

It is urging everyone to listen to safety advice and enjoy the hot weather and water safely but to avoid open water that is not lifeguarded or does not have has rescue provision.

Adrian Lole, director of lifesaving, said: “Rivers are unpredictable and dynamic in nature and people should not be tempted to cool off or tombstone into them at anytime unless doing do with a professional outdoor pursuits company.

“After the recent storms rivers are now even more dangerous with faster flowing water, stronger currents and colder water flowing through.”

The RLSS has said there are around 260 accidental drowning deaths in Britain’s inland waters each year, about 60 per cent of the total number of accidental water deaths.

Dangers can include the height of the fall or jump if tombstoning; the depth of the water, which changes and is unpredictable; submerged objects that may not be visible; obstacles or other people in the water; lack of safety equipment and increased difficulty for rescue; the shock of cold water can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty in getting out of the water; strong currents can rapidly sweep people away; uneven banks and river beds; water quality such as toxic algal blooms and industrial or agricultural pollution.

The charity also recommends that swimmers stick to lifeguarded sites; do not jump in to water until they have become acclimatised to the water temperature or jump in to water from extreme heights; avoid swimming in deep water, which will be colder, and swim parallel to the shore where they can quickly get to safety if necessary.

Swimming with friends or family, looking for signs and advice about specific dangers at a particular location and having a contingency plan in case of emergencies are also recommended. Further advice and details on lifesaving courses suitable for children and adults are available on the RLSS website at www.rlss.org.uk