“Jumping off a bridge into the River Thames can cause death”.
This is the stark warning issued by Richmond Council, the RNLI Teddington Lifeboat Station and the London Fire Brigade as more gatherings are expected at Teddington Lock ahead of the World Health Organisation’s World Drowning Prevention Day on Monday 25 July.
The Council, Teddington Lifeboat Water Safety Team and London Fire Brigade will be hosting a pop-up event from 4-7pm, Monday 25 July 2022, aiming to talk to young people about the dangers of swimming in the Thames, particularly in this area.
Teddington Lock and its two footbridges are popular during summer months, particularly with children and young people coming from Richmond upon Thames and neighbouring boroughs like Kingston upon Thames and Hounslow, looking to jump into the river or swim to cool off in hot weather.
The Teddington Lifeboat Station crew will be on hand to talk about cold water shock and how to ‘Float to Live’. There will be opportunities to take part in activities including how to use a Throw Bag to rescue ‘Drowning Derek’.
They will be joined by London Fire Brigade, along with one of their fire engine, and the Council’s Community Safety Team and Achieving for Children’s Project X team will be on site to help speak to young people.
Everyone is welcome, particularly parents, guardians and teachers who have critical roles in making sure young people and children are fully aware of the dangers of swimming and jumping, not just in this area or on the Thames, but in any open water.
Matt Allchurch, Lifeboat Operations Manager, Teddington Lifeboat Station, said:
“At Teddington RNLI we are incredibly sad that we couldn’t help save the life of 14-year-old Brian Sasu at Hampton. Every year young people drown in the Thames unnecessarily including good swimmers. This river is dangerous and, as we have tragically seen, it can kill. It is full of debris, there is fast moving river traffic and strong currents. There is also a risk of cold-water shock, as parts of the Thames remain very cool even in this hot weather. Here at Teddington RNLI we have some useful suggestions on how young people can use the river safely.
“We hope on World Drowning Prevention Day we can get some of these messages across to the young people who frequent this area, to make sure they know what to do if they or anyone else gets into trouble in the water.”
Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, added:
“At the same time as Brian tragically lost his life, hundreds of people were visiting Teddington Lock – a hotspot area for reckless behaviour on summer days. We know the water is appealing but it’s just not worth the risk.
“We have over 20 miles of Thames riverbank in this borough alone. Local authorities and the emergency services cannot be in all places at all times to disperse gatherings and keep swimmers out of the water. Equally, we know that parents cannot have eyes on their children at all times, so education about the dangers of the river is the most important thing.
“I would urge parents and anyone else who can, to come along on Monday and get the information you need to keep your children safe and help spread the word so we can prevent another tragedy.”
A section 35 dispersal order will be in place from midday on Friday 22nd July until midday on Sunday 24th July 2022, running from Teddington Lock along Richmond Riverside to Richmond Green and town centre, including Twickenham Riverside.
The dispersal order gives a police constable or community support officer powers to disperse groups of two or more people where their presence or behaviour has resulted, or is likely to result, in a member of the public being harassed, intimidated, alarmed or distressed.
Police have the powers to ask people to leave the dispersal area and not return for up to 48 hours. Failure to follow these instructions is an offence.