Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences.
Putting this into context, one person dies from drowning every 20 hours in the UK. Drowning is also the third highest cause of accidental death of children in the UK.
Here are the top ten tips to keep you, your friends and family members safe
- Only swim in designated areas
Before you venture into open water, make sure you know your location and where the safety precautions such as life rings are should you get into difficulty.
- Know your swimming ability
Even if you’re a strong swimmer, open water can overpower you and sap your swimming ability so don’t take unnecessary risks or be tempted to show off to friends.
- Know who to phone in an emergency
If you’re on the coast, phone 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you’re inland, phone 999 and ask for the ambulance service.
- Don’t jump from height from structures such as cliffs, piers and bridges
Hazards exist beneath the waterline including harmful debris such as discarded metal objects like trolleys as well as fishing nets, concrete, plastic buoys and rocks.
- Don’t drink alcohol and go into open water
If you’re out enjoying the sunshine and drinking alcohol, don’t be tempted to get into open water. You’ll put yourself at risk of injury.
- Don’t be fooled by water that looks calm on the surface
Even if water looks calm on the surface, there could be fast flowing currents and varying depths underneath which could drag you into difficulty and danger.
- A hot sunny day doesn’t mean that open water will be warm
Warm sunshine doesn’t necessarily mean that the water will be warm. Cold water shock can stop your heart no matter how fit you are, and the average sea temperature is only around 18 degrees.
- Think about tides and wind
Before using an inflatable craft think about the tides and wind to make sure that your craft does not get swept out to danger.
- Dirty water can make you sick
Being in open water can also carry hidden nasties such as blue green algae or Weil’s disease which has the potential to make you ill.
- Out in the boat?
If you are out in your boat please ensure that you remember your buoyancy aids, life jackets and kill cords.