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 trouble
- 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 sides
- 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 difficulties
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 for:
- Red and yellow flags - lifeguards on patrol
- Red flags - it's dangerous to bathe or swim so don't go into the water
- Quartered black and white flags - the area has been zoned for surf crafts and Malibu boards. It's not safe for swimmers and bathers
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 beach.
For more information about water safety visit The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents' website at www.rospa.com.