Respect the water and remember:
If you fall in the water – Float to live.
If you see someone in trouble:
- Encourage them to float;
- Throw them something to hold onto; and
- Dial 999 and ask for the coastguard (if coastal) or Fire (if inland).
If you are going to the beach:
- Go to a lifeguarded beach; and
- Swim between the red and yellow flags.
When considering swimming in any water:
- Never swim alone;
- Look for safety information;
- Don’t jump onto unknown water; and
- Be aware of cold water shock.
Being outside and enjoying the water is great for both physical and mental health and well-being; however, we need to respect the water and know what to do if things go wrong.
If you are in trouble in the water, float to live. Lie on your back with your arms and legs like a star. Once your breathing is calmer, you can either call for help or continue swimming.
If you see someone in trouble in the water, never enter the water yourself. Encourage them to float, if possible, throw them something to hold onto, stay with them on the bank/shore where you can see them, and encourage them to continue floating. Call 999 and ask for the coastguard (if at the coast) or fire and rescue service (if inland). Consider downloading the What3Words app on your smartphone to be able to give an accurate location.
Talk to your children about water safety. Encourage younger children to practice “float” on dry land or in a swimming pool, and make sure older children/teenagers – who are maybe more independent – understand the risks and what to do in an emergency.
Whatever you are doing:
- Be aware of the dangers;
- Know your limits and don’t take risks;
- Go with others and look out for each other; and
- Make sure your phone is charged so you can call for help if you come across anyone who needs it.
Know the risks
Cold water shock: if you enter water suddenly, the cold water can cause your blood vessels to close, which causes your heart to work harder and make your blood pressure go up. It can also cause an involuntary gasp of breath and an increase in your breathing rate, which can cause panic and an increased chance of inhaling water. This can happen to anyone of any age or swimming ability. Cold Water Shock – Water Safety Tips – Know The Risks (rnli.org)
Currents and tides: be aware of tides and currents, including rip currents which can be hard to spot. Currents can occur in all bodies of water, including lakes and quarries as well as rivers and the sea. Tides Can Be Dangerous – Know the Risks – Beach Safety (rnli.org) Rip Currents – Water Safety Advice And Drowning Prevention (rnli.org)
Underwater hazards: there may be unseen underwater hazards such as rocks, vegetation and rubbish.
Other hazards: avoid swimming near locks, weirs, deep water such as quarries, piers, breakwaters, harbours, boats etc.
Alcohol: never go into the water after drinking alcohol and take care when near water. Alcohol – Know the risks (rnli.org)
Swimming alone: always swim with someone else or have someone on shore watching you.
There are many ways to enjoy the water apart from swimming such as fishing, walking near water, being on the water with SUPs, kayaks and boats. The RNLI have lots of safety advice for all users of the water Choose your activity – Safety advice (rnli.org)
When you’re at the beach
- Swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags.
- Learn what the flags mean and follow the safety guidance.
- Swim parallel to the beach and close to the shore.
- Avoid swimming near rocks, piers, breakwaters etc
- Be aware that distances can be deceptive.
- Inflatables can be easily blown out to sea.
- If you are with children, make sure they know to stay with you.
When considering swimming in any water: Open Water Swimming Safety | Royal Life Saving Society UK ( RLSS UK )
- Be aware of the potential hazards.
- Look for safety/ hazard information and obey all signs.
- Do the conditions exceed your ability? swimming in open water is very different to a swimming pool.
- Never swim alone.
- Jumping into water brings the risk of cold-water shock, underwater hazards not visible, unknown depth of the water and unknown currents.
- Walk into the water allowing yourself time to acclimatise to the temperature. Sponge to Plunge | Royal Life Saving Society UK ( RLSS UK )
- Be visible, for example wear a bright swimming cap
- Consider joining an open water swimming club for advice and guidance and company.
- Consider signing up younger children for a “Swim Safe” session Swim Safe – Beach and Water Safety Sessions for Children (rnli.org)
- Make sure that you are aware of where your children are at all times near water, that they are aware of the risks / what you say they can do and what you do not want them to do, and what to do in an emergency.
Further advice can be found at:
The above advice is taken from RNLI and RLSS websites.