With over 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in England and Wales, it is easy to see how the UK Canal network has again become popular for people to take canal boat holidays, to escape from their busy lifestyles on land to move to a slower pace of life as a live-a-board canal boater.
The UK Canal network is now maintained by the Canal & River Trust. They stated last year that it was one of their busiest years with more than 385 million visits made by boaters, cyclists, runners and kayakers visiting the canals and waterways.
Any open waterway may be dangerous. The UK’s canals are approximately 3 to 4 foot deep, with the locks being much deeper so personal safety is very important.
If you own your own narrowboat or barge, you will have to make sure it is licenced by the Canal & River Trust as well as have an in-date Boat Safety Certificate which lasts for 4 years. Additional information on the Boat Safety Scheme can be found at http://www.boatsafetyscheme.org/
Your and your family’s safety around the UK canal system should be paramount, here are just a few things to consider.
- Lifejackets should be available for all aboard, make sure children always wear a lifejacket on deck.
- Have at least one lifebelt with a painter attached in case someone falls in.
- Make sure you have a torch and a whistle to attract attention.
- Wear sensible footwear, non-slip or rope-soled shoes are advisable on board.
- Keep hold of the boat with at least one hand whenever you move about on deck.
- Carry a comprehensive first aid kit as the emergency services may take some time to arrive.
- Have spare warm clothes and some extra blankets just in case someone falls in the canal.
- A mobile phone is a must – make sure you keep the phone battery fully charged in case you have to use it in an emergency. Calling the emergency services is free via the 999 telephone system.
- Tell someone else on land of your plans and boating intentions.
Here are some links to organisations with further inland water way safety advice.
Canal & River Trust
The Inland Waterways Association