Swim England

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7 tips for staying safe in the water this summer

During this spell of hot weather, we are reminding people to be safe if cooling down outside.

Going for an outdoor swim is one of the most refreshing – and fun – ways to cool off from the sun.

But the differences between swimming inside and swimming outdoors in the sea or a lake, means it’s crucial to be aware of how you can stay safe.

7 tips for staying safe in the water this summer

  1. Should you be swimming here?
    Before going in the water anywhere outdoors, ask yourself whether you should be swimming there. Look for warnings or guidance signs which may alert you to dangerous places to swim. Is there a safe place to enter and exit the water? If the answer is no, look for somewhere else.
  2. Don’t expect a solid pool floor
    So it might sound obvious, but when you’re swimming outdoors – unless you’re in one of the many fantastic lidos around the country – you won’t have a secure, solid pool floor underneath you. The bed of a lake, river or the sea will rarely provide a completely solid footing, and there may well be other obstacles and hazards underwater that you cannot see.
  3. Do expect a current
    Anyone who has swum in a lake or the sea will know just how hard it is to swim in a straight line. Rip currents, waves and tides will move you in different directions in the water. Always check the tidal activity before you go in so you know what to expect. Also, breathe away from waves and keep an eye on the shoreline. You should always swim parallel to the shore in standing depth water.
  4. Once you’ve cooled down, dry off
    Outdoor swimming is cold! And that’s perfect if you want to cool down on a hot day. But until you’re in the water, you don’t know quite how cold it is, so make sure you enter the water slowly and safely rather than jumping in. Once you have cooled off and your body temperature has reduced, it’s time to get out of the water. Do not stay in cold water once your body is starting to shiver.
  5. Don’t go out on your own
    You aren’t allowed to swim in a pool without supervision, so don’t go swimming outdoors without anyone around. The safest and best places to go swimming outdoors will have lifeguards on duty, and you will be much safer swimming with friends than on your own.
  6. Stay calm and signal
    If you do get into difficulty swimming outside, stay calm and signal to shore for help. Fight the instinct to swim harder and against the water. Click here for more swimming survival skills.
  7. Dial 999 to help others
    If you see someone else in trouble in deep or rough water, do not go into the water to help them. Too many people drown trying to save other people or their pets. Instead, call 999 or alert a lifeguard immediately. Look for something that floats which you can throw to them.

Swimming outdoors is great fun

Our CEO Jane Nickerson said: “Swimming outdoors is great fun and in this weather it can be even better.

“But it is important to remember that swimming outdoors is very different to swimming in a pool.

“There are all sorts of additional factors like currents and underwater obstacles, and even in this weather the water will still be very cold.

“When you swim outdoors please make sure it is in a life-guarded area and that you are with other people.

“If you do get in to trouble, relax, stay calm and signal for help. If you see someone else in trouble, it is important to remember to call for help by dialling 999.

“Our coastline and waterways are fabulous places but please remember to take care while enjoying them.”

Free water safety safety sessions available this summer

Places are available for young people to take part in free outdoor swimming and water safety session this summer. Run by Swim England and the RNLI at 28 outdoor waterside locations across the UK and Ireland, the hour-long Swim Safe sessions are aimed at children aged between seven and 14-years-old.  To find out more please visit swimsafe.org.uk.