Water Safety Tips
Days sent on the beach or water are a highlight for many of us especially on a sultry summer’s day. Getting into the water on a scorching day is refreshing and fun, and a glorious way to cool down from the sun.
It goes without saying, water provides an excellent means to have a fantastic time and offers so many opportunities to have fun, in the form of water sports and much more.
It is important to respect water at all times and practice proper water safety. With summer only around the corner, we wanted to share with you some beach safety essentials. These simple rules will keep you safe and ensure you have a fun time on the waterways whilst keeping you out of harms way.
- Keep your eyes on your family at all times especially young children.
- Remember sunscreen and a brimmed hat.
- Stay hydrated – drinks lots of water especially on a hot day.
- Be aware of hazards like learner surfers and rocks.
- Beware cheap bodyboards may break or the leash may snap, and you could be left out of your depth.
- Inflatables can easily be swept out to sea they are designed for pools, not the sea. They are lethal during a strong offshore wind. Be aware of how far from shore you are!
- If in doubt, don’t go out. Stay in the shallows instead.
- No climbing high rocks.
- Take a first aid kit to the beach; there may be no lifeguards on duty.
- Treat a jellyfish sting with seawater, not fresh water. Apply a cold compress and don’t rub as this will cause more pain.
- Treat a weever fish with not water (As hot as you can bear.) For at least 30 minutes.
- Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Check tide times before you set out. Don’t risk getting cut off by rising tides.
- Take heed of warning signs and be aware of local hazards.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Be aware of drop-offs, where the water goes from shallow to deep.
- Choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the yellow and reg flags.
- Follow lifeguard’s advice.
Observe the flags displayed on the beaches.
If heading to the beach with children in tow, below are a few helpful tips.
Cold Water Swimming
Be aware of the dangers of cold-water swimming. Cold water can kill even the most competent swimmers. Cold water shock is brought about in water temperatures that are below 15°C. What people might be unaware of is that the average temperature of UK waters is 12°C, so even in the summer the water can still be very cold, and you could be at risk of cold-water shock.
The following can happen when Cold Water Shock takes place.
- Fear and Panic
- Gasping for Breath
- Loss of Consciousness
- Heart Problems
Cold water shock can expel the air from your lungs and leave you helpless in seconds. If you are getting into cold water.
- Acclimatise to the cold water slowly, enter gradually to reduce the risk of cold-water shock.
- It is a good idea to wear a brightly coloured hat, wetsuit and take a tow float for better visibility.
- Never swim alone. The securest place to swim is at an open water swimming site or with a group or a club.
- Avoid face immersion and holding your breath.
- Stay within your depth.
- Limit yourself to a max of 10 minutes. The general swim rule is a minute per degree of temperature.
- Cooling will go on for 10-15 minutes after leaving the water. Also take into account the wind chill.
- It is extremely important to ensure you rewarm thoroughly before you do other things.
If you come across someone who has been in cold water, please follow these instructions on how to minister to them.
- Get them inside, remove wet clothes and get them in warm layers.
- Check for signs of Hypothermia
- Faint pulse
- Irregular heartbeat
- Uncontrolled breathing
- Blue skin
- Mental confusion
- Loss of co-ordination
- Intense shivering
- Enlarged pupils
- Give them a warm drink if they can swallow.
Rip currents can be extremely dangerous and can kill. They are strong currents that run out to sea. They can swiftly take you from the shallows of the shoreline and out into deeper waters. They usually flow at 1-2mph but can get up as fast as 4-5 mph, faster than an Olympic swimmer.
They are not solely restricted to the sea and can be found around river mouths, estuaries and man-made structures like piers and groynes.
If you should get caught in a RIP, please practice the following:
- First and foremost stay calm. Fight your instinct to thrash around.
- Don’t swim against it; this will only tire you out.
- If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
- Swim parallel to the shore until free of the RIP and then make your way to the shore.
- If you cannot swim - FLOAT or tread water until you can break free of the current – this will conserve energy.
- Raise a hand and shout for help.
Signs of a Rip can be difficult to spot but can include:
- Deeper, darker coloured water.
- Fewer breaking waves.
- A rippled surface surrounded by smooth sea, or a channel of churning, choppy water on the surface.
- Anything floating out to sea or foamy, sandy water out beyond the waves.
Please think before you swim, observe your surroundings and remember the golden rule: No Lifeguards, No swimming!
If you should witness someone in trouble, please alert a lifeguard if on duty, or call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard. Remember every second counts.
Be safe and have fun this summer on our incredible beaches, just remember to stay safe when out and abo