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Hidden dangers of local waterways highlighted through safety campaign

Date 18.07.2019

Although many students have left for even sunnier climes than Northampton and a rest from studying, those who remain and visitors to Waterside are being reminded about safety near the water around campus.

The University’s Health, Safety and Environment team have re-launched advice for the Waterside community and people out walking about the hidden dangers of the neighbouring canal and River Nene.

Advice includes being aware that the water can be colder than people expect on a summer day, to walk with a friend if possible and to take extra care if they have been drinking alcohol and use a safer route home where possible.

The University has also installed personal rescue equipment – including rescue buoys –  throughout the Nene-side of Waterside, advice signs explaining what to do and who to contact in an emergency and has manned CCTV to spot anyone in trouble and a security team trained to help if needed.

These tips and reminders are given as part of a wider campaign, including Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS). Their guidance also reminds people out swimming – including at indoor pools – to only swim in designated swimming places, to not ‘tombstone’ dive into water (where submerged objects could cause harm), to always supervise children, to not run or walk near water when the ground is wet or slippery and to seek the help of a lifeguard or immediately call 999 if they spot a bather in trouble.

Members of NFRS visited Waterside this week (Thu 17 July) to take part in a water rescue training exercise, in which a firefighter played the part of a stricken swimmer to test the skills of team members as the temperature heats up and the risk of swimming accidents increases.

Sarah Steers, Safety, Health and Environment Manager, co-organised the training scenario: “Even though we have less students at the University during this time of the year, Waterside remains open for business for some subject areas, external visitors and members of the public who walk through and enjoy the beautiful grounds of our campus.

“With that in mind, it’s hugely important that people know about water safety. Hosting Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue, who staged a brilliant – and very real-looking! – rescue exercise, will really help us drive the key messages home.”

The University’s July graduation ceremonies next week will include a ceremonial walk over Becket’s Bridge to the event’s location at the Royal & Derngate theatre with student ambassador chaperones lining the route on the day as an extra safety precaution to ensure everyone has a memorable time.