A campaign that aims to educate children about the dangers of waterways and promote safety has been launched) by Gallions Housing Association; with the full backing of Windrush Primary School and Thamesmead and Erith MP, John Austin.
Gallions will reach out to all primary schools in Thamesmead with posters containing top safety tips and fun booklets designed to get kids talking and learning about waterways safety. Children can take the booklets home and go through them with their parents or any adult. They can even work through them in schools with their teachers.
Gallions' Environmental Services Manager Tom Broad, said: “Thamesmead has over 7km of canals and quite a few lakes. We want everyone to enjoy them; but at the same time be safe. Although we put up a lot of signs where appropriate, they're vandalised quite regularly. We need to find other ways of getting safety messages across and not just rely on signs alone. By handing out the booklets and posters to every school in the area, we are hoping that it will get the whole community involved and talking about the subject. This is just the beginning. We are planning on implementing other initiatives throughout next year to keep the subject fresh in everyone's minds”.
John Austin, MP, said: "I am pleased that Gallions Housing Association has taken this initiative. Following the tragic death of one of my constituents earlier this year whilst saving the life of a child, who was in difficulties in the water at Broadwater, I asked both Bexley and Greenwich Councils and other agencies in Thamesmead, such as Gallions and Tilfen Land, to carry out a water safety audit and initiate a water safety awareness campaign, aimed particularly at children and parents. I hope that the efforts of Gallions may help prevent a similar tragedy in future".
Carole Warnke, Head Teacher of Windrush Primary School added: "We have worked with Gallions on a number of occasions and are very impressed with their dedication and commitment to making Thamesmead a safer place for everyone. There are many lakes and canals in Thamesmead used for leisure activities but if you misbehave around the waterways, accidents can happen. I am endorsing this campaign because I believe it will go a long way in helping our children observe basic safety guidelines and may one day help save lives".
Top tips for staying safe and enjoying the waterways...
• Children should never visit waterways alone; they should always take an adult with them
• Children should always let their parents know where they're going and when they'll be back
• You should never dive into shallow water; you could hit your head and damage your neck
• Learn to swim. Contact your nearest leisure centre for more information
• Kids should not be allowed to play to close to the water's edge; they could slip and fall in
• Call 999 if you spot anyone in danger; do not go in and try to rescue them
• Keep an eye out for signs around waterways and do what they tell you to
• If you go in a boat or canoe, make sure you wear a life jacket
• Stay away from frozen waterways; the ice may be too thin to walk or skate on
• If you spot anyone destroying or stealing life saving equipment, report them to nearest person in authority