How to stay safe on the Norfolk Broads - advice issued after canoe capsizes
08:44 23 April 2014
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2010
Police have issued safety advice for the Broads after two men suffered mild hypothermia when their canoe capsized.
Both Broads police and the Broads Authority have reminded holidaymakers and residents to be careful while enjoying the water following a handful of incidents over the bank holiday weekend.
Please wear your lifejacket / buoyancy aid at all times whilst on the boat or near the water’s edge.
• On a hot day, the water may look an inviting place to cool down, but remember the Broads is unsuitable for swimming in. The colder temperatures, along with underwater plants and fast currents provide unseen obstacles that can endanger the life of anyone entering the water
• Never enter the water to get someone out - reach, or throw a rope or anything that will float.
• Keep an eye on everyone on board, particularly children, and avoid sitting on the front of the boat.
• Alcohol and water can be a dangerous mix. The risk of falling into the water increases with alcohol consumption. It is illegal to navigate a vessel under the influence of drink or drugs and there are hefty fines for those that do.
• Do not use disposable barbecues onboard vessels.
• Pay attention to speed limits and observe all navigational markers to avoid being stranded on mud banks or in shallow tidal water.
• Be courteous to others. Sailing boats have the right of way and can be difficult to manoeuvre so slow down, keep to the right hand side. Give moored boats, small boats and anglers plenty of space when you pass and reduce your speed and wash.
• Boats don’t have brakes - they take time to slow down and stop so think ahead.
• Always moor up against the tide or current. Avoid rocking the boat by jumping on or off or running and avoid climbing on the cabin roof
• Do not navigate at night without lights fitted.
• Keep the boat shipshape - trailing ropes can trip or tangle and sometimes get caught around the propeller.
• Keep a good lookout: Overhead power cables - look out, look up! Keep all people inside whilst going under bridges and mind your heads. You are advised to use the bridge pilot provided at Potter Heigham and Wroxham. Most hire companies require this. On Easter Sunday, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was sent to Breydon Water, near Great Yarmouth, to rescue a family whose hire boat had become stuck in mud flats. All eight people on board, plus the family dog, were wearing lifejackets, but feared for their safety when the boat began to tip. The lifeboat was launched and took the family, who were on the first day of a week-long holiday, to Yarmouth Yacht Station.
On Easter Monday, two men in their 20s were rescued after their canoe overturned on the River Bure at Horning. Broadsbeat officers were on afternoon patrol when they spotted the men “stranded” on the river bank.
“They had hired a canoe that had capsized and they were stranded on the ‘wild’ side of the river, among the reeds,” said a police spokesman.
“They were picked up by the Broadsbeat team and taken back to Salhouse Broad. Both had mild hypothermia setting in but they declined treatment.”
Broads Authority head of safety management Steve Birtles said the “most important” thing when out on the Broads was to wear a lifejacket.
“If you fall in, a lifejacket will more than double your chance of survival,” he said.
“A lifejacket is equally important whether you’re on deck or tying up. Children should wear buoyancy aids even when the boat is moored and they should always be supervised especially if they are on deck when the boat is underway.”
If in trouble on the Broads, call 999 and ask for the coastguard.