Warnings over danger of tombstoning and swimming near weirs

Warning over wild swimming and tombstoning in Suffolk Picture: ARCHANT

Warning over wild swimming and tombstoning in Suffolk Picture: ARCHANT


Fresh warnings about the dangers of tombstoning in Suffolk have been issued as temperatures are set to rise again today.

The Environment Agency is calling on parents to remind their children to stay safe near rivers, especially at locks and weirs now lockdown restrictions are being eased and more people are heading out to explore waterways in rural areas.

One reader spotted youngsters tombstoning near Bramford on Friday and raised concerns not only for their immediate safety but also about the lack of social distancing.

She said: “Driving across the bridge over the river at Bramford I saw loads of youngsters congregating on the bridge and jumping in the water. Looking at the river it was packed. What don’t these people understand about a second wave?”

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And in Huntingdon 300 swimmers and sunbathers gathered at Houthon Lock on the Great River Ouse as temperatures soared last week. Police issued a dispersal order to clear the area amidst fears those gathering were not social distancing but also over concerns about people swimming too close to an Environment Agency structure in the water.

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These structures can pose hidden dangers for even the strongest swimmers, such as strong currents, underwater hazards and even algae that could make people ill, the agency warns.

Irven Forbes, Anglian Waterways Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We manage a large number of structures like locks and weirs to keep our waterways safe, keep our navigation channels clear, and keep homes protected from flooding.
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“Every summer we see people put themselves at risk by ignoring warning signs and swimming where it isn’t safe, and we know this can have serious, even tragic, consequences.

“Please don’t take the chance – follow posted safety warnings and guidance from the authorities. If you don’t, you’re risking your life, and you could face a day in court and a steep fine.”

Increased numbers of people have been spotted across Environment Agency structures and sites this summer, and they said the behaviour poses additional risks not just to those breaking the rules, but to local residents, and is putting additional pressure on police and EA resources.

The advice is to never jump or dive into rivers as the depth may vary and there can be unseen hazards and swimmers are advised not to go in near weirs, locks, pipes and sluices as they are often linked with strong currents.

Meanwhile, parents are advised to teach their children to swim, warn them not to go into water alone, or unsupervised and to ensure they know where their children are and what they are doing.

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