Police issue warning against swimming in Thames during heatwave

PUBLISHED: 15:36 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:36 24 July 2019

Police have warned of the dangers of swimming in the Thames or the docks. Picture: Ken Mears

Police have warned of the dangers of swimming in the Thames or the docks. Picture: Ken Mears


Don’t go swimming in the Thames or the docks during the heatwave.

That's the warning from the Met Police after a 23-year-old man drowned in Shadwell Basin.

His body was pulled from the water this morning (Wednesday, July 24) after he failed to surface yesterday evening.

Officers are still looking for two other men who entered the water further down the Thames.

Inspector Stuart Simpson said: "One death is one too many and we are absolutely committed to reducing the number of deaths on the River Thames, as well as across London.

"Whilst at times, the Thames may look appealing, especially in this hot weather, it remains very dangerous all year round.

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"On initial entry the water can seem warm on the surface, but further in it can be freezing cold and there are often very strong undercurrents. The initial shock of the cold water is often what leads to people going subsurface and subsequently drowning.

"Cold water shock is a killer and Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) figures tell us that in waters like this on the Thames, within three minutes people will start to suffer from its effects.

"Even in the middle of summer, you may experience cold water shock in rivers or the sea where you inhale water involuntarily because the temperature is so low."

Neil Withers, RNLI area lifesaving manager for the Thames, added: "We understand that it can be very tempting to jump into the river to cool off on very hot days.

"Even though the river may look calm, it's very cold and you can be swept away in a matter of seconds. It's never worth the risk.

"Please find a lido or pool and enjoy the hot weather safely.

"We don't want any more families and friends to lose loved ones when it's so easily avoidable."

Anyone who sees a swimmer in difficulty is asked to call 999 and ask for the coastguard rather than go into the water to help. The same message also applies to animals.

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