No activity is free from risk but knowing more about the risk factors involved in swimming outdoors and being properly prepared will help safety.
For more advanced information, see OSS Intermediate Tips for Safe Swimming
Ask locals for advice, and read local warning and guidance signs. Find your exit point before entering the water
Beware of underwater hazards and currents.
Alcohol and drugs impair judgement, swimming ability and body temperature.
Take someone with you when you go into water. If something goes wrong they will be able to get help
Enter the water slowly, getting used to the temperature. Cold water shock ‘gasp reflex’ can be triggered in water below 15c
Before jumping in, check for depth and hazards, and get used to the water temperature. Stay within your limits
Swim near the shore, not away from it.
Find a safe area for children to play in and watch them all the time. It’s easy for them to fall and get into difficulty.
Where possible, stick to lifeguarded beaches and obey the flags. If you get into trouble, signal for help by raising an arm or leg. Beware of waves, tides, and currents, which will be affected by wind and weather conditions.
People who are drowning are usually silent. Call for help – dial 112 or 999 and ask for the Coastguard or ask for the Fire and Rescue service when at any inland waterside location. Don’t attempt to save a swimmer in difficulty.
Find something buoyant you can throw to help keep them above the water.
If you get caught in a rip, stay calm. Swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore
If you can stand, wade, don’t swim. Raise your arm or leg and call for help
Spot the dangers
Advice – follow safety advice and read signs
Friend – swim with others
Emergency – call for help, recognise the signs of someone in trouble
INCREASING CHILDREN’S ABILITY IN WATER
Beyond learning to swim, there is learning to swim outdoors:
REDUCING ACCIDENTAL DEATHS