As temperatures rise in the British summertime, you or
your family may be tempted to cool off with a swim in a local river
or lake or in the sea. However, did you know that in the year 2000,
54 children drowned in the UK? Stay out of difficulties by wising
up to the dangers.
What are the dangers of swimming in rivers and lakes?
- There is no supervision by lifeguards to help you if get into
- The water is often a lot colder than you expect and it can
impact on your physical capabilities. Just because you can swim
well in a warm watered pool doesn't mean you'll be able to swim
well in cold water.
- It can be deep and it's difficult to estimate the depth before
you get in.
- You may jump in but can you get out? Often people can't find a
suitable place to get out of the water due to steep slimy banks or
- There is no way of knowing what lies beneath the surface of the
water. There could be shopping trolleys, opened tin cans
or broken bottles.
- If it's polluted, it could make you ill!
- There may be hidden currents.
- Never drink alcohol during or just before swimming or while
carrying out activities such as boating or water skiing.
- If you're going to go swimming, make sure that somebody is
nearby so you can shout for help if you get into
What about swimming at the beach?
When you are swimming at a beach, be beware of which flag is
flying as this will warn you of any dangers. Here is what to look
- Red and yellow flags - lifeguards on patrol.
- Red flags - it's dangerous to bathe or swim so don't go into
- Quartered black and white flags - the area has been zoned for
surf crafts and Malibu boards. It's not safe for swimmers and
Children should always go to the beach with an adult. An adult
can point out dangers or help if somebody gets into trouble.
What should I do if I spot an emergency?
If you see someone in difficulty in the water, tell somebody,
preferably a lifeguard if there is one nearby. Alternatively use
your mobile or go to the nearest telephone and dial 999, ask for
the Police at inland water sites and the Coastguard at the
Advice on Boats >>
sports and coastal activities >>
For more information about water safety visit The Royal Society
for the Prevention of Accidents' website at www.rospa.com.