Shadwell Basin in East London bears a sad history of accidental drowning. Far too frequently has a member of the public succumbed to tragedy whilst swimming in the former industrial dock. With water safety campaigns, and public appeals led by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, urging people not to enter the water proving ineffective, Tower Hamlets Council together with London Fire Brigade have decided that enough is enough. During the National Fire Chiefs Council’s 2021 Be Water Aware drowning prevention and water safety campaign week, numerous Reach and Rescue Portsafes with Emergency Throwlines were installed to make the public safer at Shadwell Basin.
According to the Tower Hamlets Mayor, “there’s a problem because of dangerous obstacles hidden underwater ” in Shadwell Basin. Deep mud and silt built up in the years since the dock closed to industry in the 1960’s is a major hazard as the silt can suck even the strongest swimmers underwater. Of course, as seen the rest of the UK, the threat of cold water shock is a constant too. After the tragic drowning of 23-year-old student Jonathan Adebanjo in the basin in 2019, coroner Edwin Buckett expressed concerns that the existing water safety signs were “fairly small and can be missed if the area is busy.”
As a result, in an urgent effort to promote drowning prevention the coroner called for improved signs featuring larger and more visible warnings which clearly highlight the dangers in the water. Council leaders at Tower Hamlets Council took the coroner’s criticism seriously. Working closing with our official water safety partners, The Royal Life Saving Society UK, they chose to install a number of our industry leading Portsafe Public Access Water Rescue Systems to make the area safer.
A key feature of all the Portsafe Public Access Water Rescue Systems we’ve installed throughout the UK is the lock code for the secure box which is linked to 999 control. In the event of an emergency, a caller to 999 quotes the location code on the board to gain access to the box with the water rescue equipment stored inside. They can then act on a rescue whilst the 999 call handler despatches the emergency services.
These emergency throwline boards installed in Shadwell Basin also feature what3words geo-locations. Quoting the what3words address to the 999 call handler enables the emergency services to find and respond to incidents much faster by providing a pinpoint location. For an area the size of Shadwell Basin with multiple entranceways, this specific location information could prove vital.
A key goal of our collaboration with Tower Hamlets Council and London Fire Brigade in installing these Portsafes is to discourage the sheer number of swimmers who flock to the basin from entering the dangerous water – especially during the summer months – through the throwline boards’ bold and visible water safety messages. Furthermore, the secure emergency throwlines will always be available in the event of an emergency, unlike liferings that are sadly prone to theft or vandalism.
For more information on our Portsafe Public Access Water Rescue System and how it can make your community safer from accidental drowning, head to our dedicated Portsafe webpage: https://reachandrescue.com/portsafe/