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Shropshire residents urged not to take risks in rivers as hot weather hits

By Dominic Robertson | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

With blistering temperatures expected across the county over the weekend people are being reminded not to take risks in rivers or on visits to the coast.

Kirsty Walsh

Shrewsbury is set to hit 29C today, with temperatures set to remain around 25C well in to next week, while Telford, Oswestry, and Newtown all look likely to reach similar levels.

With the expected warm weather there are however concerns about safety for those at the seaside, as well as in rivers, reservoirs and lakes around the county.

It comes after tragedy last weekend when 36-year-old Telford father Jonathan Stevens died after attempting to rescue his children from a rip current off the coast of Barmouth.

And yesterday four canoeists had to be rescued from the River Severn in Bridgnorth.

Last weekend's warm weather also saw numerous incidents across the UK with the coastguard reporting its busiest day ever, with more than 300 incidents.

The RNLI, and Shrewsbury's Kirsty Walsh, who has campaigned for greater awareness of water safety after the death of her husband Shane, have both called on people to be aware of the dangers and not to put themselves at risk in the hot weather.

Kirsty, who has worked with local police and West Mercia Search and Rescue on the 'Home and Dry – No More River Deaths' campaign, said: "There is a concern when there is warm weather, especially myself personally having been through what I went though when it was not even the summer, I worry all year round about people entering lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and of course going to the coast, just because people tend to do that more in the warm weather.

"It is very hot, people think they can go in to these areas to cool off when the water is in fact very cold, and cold enough to cause cold water shock. Most people don't know about the effect of cold water shock – I didn't know and I had to learn the hard way."

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Kirsty's husband Shane died after falling into the River Severn in Shrewsbury on September 3, 2017.

Kirsty, who has been a vocal campaigner for river safety every since the tragedy, said she did not want other families to have to go through the same experience, and urged people not to take any chances.

Kirsty and Shane.

She said: "The impact is absolutely horrific, my children and me, the extended family, friends, we are all still going through the impact and trauma of Shane's death. It does not go away. It is a daily battle and I would hate for any other family to go through what we have gone through."

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Kirsty has also encouraged people to complete the free online water safety course available from West Mercia Search and Rescue, be they young or old.

She said: "Water does not discriminate, it can take anyone at any time."

Gareth Morrison, RNLI head of water safety, has also urged those visiting the cost to be aware of the risks.

He said: "Our coastline is a fantastic place to spend time together as a family, especially when the sun is out and it's hot.

"But there are also plenty of potential dangers, especially for those who aren't fully aware of their surroundings and may be visiting a particular beach for the first time.

"We are advising everyone planning a visit to a beach or the coast to follow (the) beach safety advice."

People can complete the water safety course at https://westmerciasar.org.uk/homeanddry/free-water-safety-online-course/

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