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Fire and police crews issue water safety warning over fears Yalding weir will be used as temperatures continue to soar

Emergency crews are asking those enjoying this week's heatwave to follow water safety advice and stay out of the county's rivers.

Kent and Medway has a wide variety of lakes, tidal and non-tidal rivers and waterways, all of which carry hidden dangers, officials warn.

Fire crews and local police officers will be at The Lees in Yalding on Saturday, highlighting the dangers of swimming in the nearby weir, which can become a fast-flowing torrent without notice

Emergency crews are warning people to stay out of Yalding Weir as the heatwave continues.
Emergency crews are warning people to stay out of Yalding Weir as the heatwave continues.

A water safety unit and rescue boat from Larkfield fire station will be on display from 11am to 2pm and Kent Fire and Rescue Service's community safety team and will be providing tips on staying safe around water this summer.

Service delivery manager Rob Groombridge said: “We are urging people not to put their lives at risk by entering the water at Yalding weir in Maidstone, or indeed any other part of the river.

“The weir is a hotspot for water rescue incidents, and there has already been some serious near misses this year, both here and elsewhere in the county, where people have got in to difficulty in the water.

"The area is very popular with families in the summer and it is tempting to want to cool off in the water, but it is extremely dangerous.

"What appears to be a shallow and calm water at one moment, can turn into a raging torrent without warning when the sluice gates open, and you can quickly be swept you off your feet in to deep water, putting you at serious risk of drowning.

“Our advice to anyone considering allowing their family to enter the water at Yalding weir is please don’t risk it: keep yourself and your loved-one safe by opting instead to visit a swimming pool or beach where a life-guard is present.”

Kent Police chief inspector Mark Hedges said: “There have been a number of occasions when people have entered bodies of water during the summer months and got into difficulties.

"Tragically, in some cases this has led to fatal consequences.

“My officers are supporting Kent Fire and Rescue Service to get the message across that families can enjoy themselves in public areas near rivers and lakes but we’d ask people to do so responsibly by not swimming in deep water and ensuring children are supervised at all times.”

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