Spring is upon us, the water is warming up, and a busy summer like no other is on its way. With a larger number of swimmers taking to the water outside for the first time these simple tips for staying safe this summer whilst swimming are a great place to start.
1. SPOT THE DANGERS: Ask locals for advice, and read local warning and guidance signs before heading into water at a new spot. Find your exit point before entering the water. Beware of underwater hazards and currents.
2. SWIM SOBER: Alcohol and drugs impair judgement, swimming ability and body temperature. Don’t drink or take drugs before swimming, even in small quantities.
3. SWIM WITH OTHERS: Consider taking someone with you when you go into water, especially if you’ve not swum alone before. If something goes wrong they will be able to get help.
4. INCREASE YOUR EXPOSURE TO OPEN WATER GRADUALLY: Enter the water slowly, getting used to the temperature. Cold water shock ‘gasp reflex’ can be triggered in water below 15 °c.
5. AVOID JUMPING IN: Before jumping in check for depth and hazards, and get used to the water temperature. If in doubt about the depth, don’t jump.
6. WATCH CHILDREN AT ALL TIMES: 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, and even shallow water can cause problems.
7. SWIM AT LIFEGUARDED BEACHES: If new to swimming outdoors or inexperienced at long distance swimming, 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 – if you are unsure of these conditions, stick to a lifeguarded beach at all times.
8. RECOGNISE THE SIGNS OF DROWNING: 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 put yourself at risk trying to save a swimmer in difficulty. Find something buoyant you can throw to help keep them above the water.
9. LEARN HOW TO SPOT A RIP TIDE: 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.
10. REMEMBER THE SAFE SWIMMERS CODE:
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
REDUCING ACCIDENTAL DEATHS:
INCREASING CHILDREN’S ABILITY IN WATER:
Beyond learning to swim, there is learning to swim outdoors: