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Water Safety

Canals are often shallow, but you can’t tell from the surface.

Jumping in – you are likely to injure yourself, possibly seriously. However don’t be fooled into thinking that all canals are shallow. If you can’t put your feet on the ground, it will be much harder to get out.

Dangers of canals – Low temperatures, which can cause the body to go into cold shock and even hypothermia, drawing blood away from your muscles to protect your organs. This can lead to drowning.

Reeds and other plant life, which can get tangled around limbs and keep you in the water.

Swallowing canal water – Many organisms that cause gastro intestinal illnesses – Novovirus, Salmonella and Cryptosporidium are commonly found in rivers, lakes and canals. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting.

British waterways do not allow swimming in its canals.

Canal Undercurrents – Canals can have deep waters, strong undercurrents, and turbulence that could be a challenge for the strongest of swimmers.

Canal Banks – canal banks can be slick and steep making it difficult for someone to climb out.

All participants will line up along the furthest side to the towpath – lowering, considerably any unexpected canal/water entry.


  1. If someone enters the canal by accident

The situations should be assessed and the alarm raised.

A rescue should only be attempted if it is possible without endangering pthe life of the rescuer.

Rescues which may be possible without risk to the rescuer are:

  • To throw a buoyant aid or a rope.
  • A reach rescue from the side whilst lying down using any long object such as a pole, a branch of a tree or an item of clothing. It is important to lie down so as the person being rescued doesn’t pull the rescuer into the water.
  • A wade in rescue if the water is shallow.

A rescue is only attempted if it is safe to do so without putting rescuer at risk. It may be possible to affect a talking rescue by shouting instructions to a casualty to calm them down to help themselves.

  • Make Stewards, Event Manager, Police and PLO’s aware using your contact list.
  • Contact First Aiders.
  • The fire service, police and ambulance service.

Four Parts of Water Safety Code

  • Spot The Dangers
  • Take Safety Advice
  • Don’t Go alone
  • Learn How To Help.


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