London’s river police have warned of the dangers of the River Thames in a bid to put off people tempted to cool off in the water this summer.
And the Met’s River Policing Unit (MPU) said that if you see anyone in the river call 999 immediately and ask for the Coastguard – do not go in to get them yourself.
The river is much colder than summer air temperatures and the tides and current are strong and quick – too much for most people to withstand. On average the MPU is called to over twenty incidents a week on the Thames.
Inspector Stuart Simpson of the MPU said: “Whilst the weather has been wet and rainy of late, we anticipate that, hopefully, warmer weather will come and people often see the river as a place to cool off. And although London will be hot, the river runs at an average of 12C. Cold water shock can occur at any temperature under 15C.
“I urge the public to not underestimate the river. Once a person is in the water they will almost definitely struggle to keep afloat or in control; the Thames holds currents stronger than any person, moves at extreme speeds and is capable carrying a person swiftly along the river. The water may look calm but the tides are extremely strong and quick, and can easily drag someone a mile in just ten minutes.
“Think before you act, consider the dangers and please do not jump in the water, however good a swimmer you are.
“For some people their natural instinct will be to try and save someone in trouble but as soon as you enter the water you will be putting your life at danger too.
“Please do not enter the water yourself and instead dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Officers and our partners are highly trained and able drive boats at high speed with skill and precision to get to a casualty as quickly as possible.
“The best support you can give is keeping eyes on the person in danger, providing valuable information so we can pin point an exact location.
“If you see someone in danger, act fast, act sensibly. Throw a life ring if possible, keep your eyes on the person and wait for trained and professional help.”
If you find yourself in the water then please follow the RNLI’s ‘Float to Live’ steps:
– If you fall into water, fight your instinct to thrash around.
– Lean back, extend your arms and legs.
– If you need to, gently move them around to help you float.
– Float until you can control your breathing.
– Only then, call for help or swim to safety.