Heatwave warning to stay out of 'fast-moving' River Thames as London temperatures soar

The River Thames is too 'powerful' to be safe to swim in, an expert warns.

Londoners are being warned to stay out the River Thames during this week's heatwave, as emergency crews prepare for an influx of 999 calls.

The Met Office said highs of 33C were expected in some areas on Monday afternoon with central, southern and eastern England all experiencing the rising temperatures. It could mark the hottest day of the year so far, with the UK’s record high for this year currently standing at 32.7C recorded at Heathrow on June 17.

'Tidal Thames is very dangerous'

James Anthony, from Chiswick Lifeboat, said most people were unaware how dangerous the Thames was, and said no one should jump in.

"Don't do it. We're not the fun police. I can see the attraction of cool water in hot weather but the tidal Thames is a very dangerous stretch of river and people lose their lives regularly, so go to a lido instead."

Mr Anthony added: "The water is very fast-moving with two tides every 12 hours. It takes eight hours for it to ebb out but only four hours for it to flood in, so it's flooding in at twice the rate it ebbs out, very powerful indeed."

Mr Anthony also said people should not jump in if their pets get into trouble in the water, and should instead dial 999.

People in pedalos on the Serpentine, Hyde Park

He added: "I'm a pet owner myself and I have in the past let my terrier go into the water. It's a bit like a farmer would say- 'keep the dog away from the cattle' - in this case keep the dog on a lead when you're near a river, that way it's not going to go in. "[If your dog goes into the water] What you should do is save your energy to keep composed, call 999 ask for London coastguard, tell them what's happened and the coastguard will task the lifeboat.

"We will rescue the animal and reunite owner with animal."

With temperatures expected to soar this week ahead of a further blast of hot weather over the weekend London Ambulance service said sunseekers should keep themselves safe.

"Our calls will get to very high levels this week. We have rostered more people to answer the phone and more staff on the frontline and hopefully we will be here to keep Londoners safe," said Daniel Elkeles from London Ambulance Service. "It would be helpful if Londoners could keep themselves safe!

"Stay in the shade, don't run a marathon, drink lots of fluid and if you are using public transport take a water bottle with you," he added.

A Level Three Heat Health Alert has been issued by the Met Office and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) from 9am on Monday to 9am on Friday in the east and south-east of England, with the rest of the nation having a level 2 alert in place. The four-level system highlights the potential health impacts of these high temperatures. Councils are advising people to take precautions amid the soaring temperatures. The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, has encouraged people to enjoy the sun safely and to check up on those who may be more vulnerable, including the elderly and those with heart and respiratory problems. Water companies, meanwhile, are urging people not to waste water during the heatwave this week.

A gardener waters plants in the 'SuperBloom' wild flower garden at the Tower of London

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "While many of us enjoy the hot weather, it can bring health risks and I want to encourage Londoners and visitors to our capital to be careful of the heat today and in the coming days as the Met Office is predicting a level three heat alert.

"I urge everyone to drink plenty of water in these high temperatures and look after each other – particularly the most vulnerable Londoners, including the elderly, those living alone, and those with chronic or severe illnesses. "We know that simple precautions can save lives, so I encourage everyone to stay out of the sun, to be careful if travelling at the hottest times of day, and to utilise London’s 4,000 free refill locations, more than 100 new water fountains and our Cool Spaces across the capital. "With more places to access free water than ever before, we are building a better and safer London for everyone."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...