Local authority leaders have warned young people not to risk their lives jumping from great heights into the sea or rivers during the summer holidays.
The Local Government Association (LGA) and all 48 fire and rescue authorities have issued the warning after a surge in the practice known as ‘tombstoning’ as a result of the hot weather.
‘Tombstoning’ is where people jump from structures as high as 65 feet into the sea or river, often unsupervised and sometimes under the influence of alcohol.
The LGA said that those taking part in this activity run the risk of injuring themselves on underwater objects, landing badly or getting cold water shocks.
Since 2004, the Coastguard has dealt with more than 200 incidents of tombstoning, with 70 injuries and 20 deaths.
‘Tombstoning is extremely dangerous and anyone doing it is dicing with death or risks ending up with life-changing or serious injuries,’ said Cllr Morris Bright, vice chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board.
‘The message is clear – if you don’t know that the depth of the water is safe or you cannot see what is below the surface, don’t jump or let alcohol, drugs or peer pressure affect your judgement. Even if you think you are jumping safely, children may be watching you and copy your actions.
‘Sea and river temperatures can also be deceptive and can cause people’s body temperature to plummet, leading to cold water shock and increasing the risk of drowning, while sea currents or undertow, even on a calm day, can create life-threatening hazards without warning.
‘We urge young people to resist temptation to tombstone during the warm weather and to get their kicks from safer activities elsewhere during the summer holidays.’