WITH schools out for Easter and the county expecting a warm Bank Holiday weekend a fresh plea has been made for young people to stay safe in Oxfordshire’s rivers.

An appeal from the Environment Agency said it was largely children and teenagers who got into trouble in open water and warned of the 'hidden dangers' of jumping off the many bridges along the Thames.

The Government body also stressed how drowning can happen very quickly, even in shallow water, and unexpectedly cold water could send the body into shock.

Oxford Mail:

Russell Robson, River Thames operations manager for the EA, said: “Easter is always a busy time on our rivers, especially if the weather is good!

“We expect the River Thames to be a focal point for a lot of people’s leisure time, whether out in a boat, taking a dip, or just hanging out by the riverside.

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“But we urge parents and guardians to supervise younger children closely in and around water.

"Teenagers and young adults should be warned of the dangers and to remember some basic safety points when out having fun.”

There have been several tragic deaths of young people in the Thames in recent years.

Oxford Mail:

In 2016 student Ellis Downes, 16, drowned while swimming in the River Thames near Abindgon, despite friends risking their own lives to save him.

A year earlier, 13-year-old Aown Dogar died after falling into the River Thames at Weirs Lane, near Donnington Bridge.

In May 2012 Hussain Mohammed, died almost in the same spot after jumping in the river.

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And in 2006, 15-year-old Hassan Hussain drowned in the River Cherwell.

Mr Robson said: “We’d really like people to read and act upon our online water safety advice – it’s so important.

"There is lots of other great advice available online, too, produced by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the Canal and River Trust and others.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Robson said one of the main risks was cold-water shock, which can have a dramatic effect on the body, causing someone to breathe in water, make muscles weaken, and can even cause the heart to go into abnormal rhythms, leading to death.

He added: “You also have no idea what’s beneath the surface of the water: there could be unseen currents and reeds, which could pull you under.

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“In an ideal world, no one would get on or in the river alone, so there would be someone around to help if they did get into any difficulties.

"Anyone out in any kind of boat should wear a lifejacket, just in case.

“As for swimming in the Thames, we’d really rather people didn’t do it unless it’s part of an organised and supervised event. Swimming should be confined to swimming pools and lidos.”