Cooling off in rivers, canals, ponds, quarries and lakes can have deadly consequences.
Every year, firefighters are called to incidents where residents (particularly children and young people) get into difficulty when swimming in open water.
Dangers of cooling off in open water
The water may look calm on the surface, but there may still be strong undercurrents that could pull even a strong swimmer under.
The water may also feel relatively warm on the surface, but just a few feet below can be icy cold – even in the hot weather – and can very quickly cause severe cramp and hypothermia.
Young people often misjudge their swimming ability – they may view a river or lake as a tempting means of cooling off during a hot spell of weather, but fail to appreciate the harmful effects that the cold water can have on their stamina and strength.
Key safety tips for staying safe near water
The following are some key safety tips for staying safe near water:
- Alcohol and swimming do not mix – stay out of the water if you’ve been drinking.
- Always watch your child while at the beach, lake or other natural bodies of water.
- Never let older children swim in unsupervised areas like quarries, canals or ponds.
- Don’t swim near motor boats, jet skis or other power vehicles.
- Never interfere with lifesaving equipment – you might need it yourself.
- Learn to spot and keep away from dangerous water.
- Take safety advice – heed notices which warn you of the danger. See national water safety signs for guidance.
- Children should always visit open water sites with a grown-up.
- Swimming anywhere other than at purpose built and supervised swimming pools is highly dangerous and is not recommended, unless as part of an organised club.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents – advice on water safety