The Canal & River Trust, the charity which cares for the Rochdale and Ashton Canals, has joined forces with the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to warn people to take extra care near the city’s waterways after enjoying a night out on the town.

The RLSS UK campaign complements the Canal & River Trust’s annual winter safety campaign launched this week which calls on people to stay safe by taking extra care on towpaths during the winter months. The number of accidents on the waterways increases at this time of year, mostly from people slipping and tripping on icy paths or falling into freezing cold water.

David Baldacchino, Canal & River Trust local waterway manager, said: “We don’t want to spoil the festive fun but we want everyone to get home safely this Christmas.

“Unfortunately people sometimes take unnecessary risks or can be tempted to make unwise decisions, especially after enjoying a few drinks. Sadly the consequences of getting it wrong can be disastrous.

“We have placed a number of ‘Don’t Drink and Drown’ banners on the railings along the city centre canals which hopefully will be a timely warning to anyone planning to take a short cut home alone along a dark, slippery towpath or show off to their mates by leaping across lock gates.”

Di Steer, RLSS UK chief executive said: “People die each year after entering the water with alcohol in their bloodstream, either deliberately or completely by accident. Drinking near or in water can be dangerous and a deadly cocktail. Alcohol can seriously impede your ability to survive in water.

“When walking home from a night out, avoid routes that are alongside water, particularly in the darkness, and always stay with and look out for your friends.”

Councillor David Acton, chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, added: “Firefighters who work in the centre of Manchester are amongst the busiest in the UK for water rescues. They rescue countless people from rivers and canals in the city centre.

“Tragically our firefighters often pull people from the water who have died or suffered life changing injuries after falling in – alcohol is often a factor in these incidents.

“We want everyone to have a great time this Christmas and we’re supporting the Don’t Drink and Drown campaign to make sure people know how to stay safe when they’re out celebrating. “Taking a shortcut home might be tempting when you’re drunk, but it could be the last thing you do this Christmas.”

Top tips for enjoying safe visits to winter waterways:

  • Be extra vigilant. Enjoy the towpaths with friends, wrap up warm and check the weather before heading for a walk or run along a towpath
  • If you have been enjoying a festive drink, make sure you walk home with a friend and stay away from the water
  • Whether running or walking, be safe and tell someone where you are heading
  • Rubbish and reeds lurk beneath the water’s surface which could drag you down so don’t get in the water
  • The towpath can be slippery when wet and icy so wear sturdy footwear and be careful where you tread
  • Daylight draws in fast during the winter months so avoid walking by water in the late afternoon or evening
  • It’s very hard to tell from the surface how deep the water is – some canals will be deeper than you think. Ice will not support your weight.

To find out more about staying safe near the water go to

Visit for more about the ‘Don’t drink and drown’ campaign and look for #DontDrinkandDrown.