Published: Thursday 03 June 2021

With sunnier and warmer weather (we hope!) comes the added appeal of taking a dip in the nearest water. Most children learn to swim in the relative safety of a swimming pool so while they may be able to swim confidently in this environment, there can be additional considerations when swimming in the sea, river or lake. Water may look safe but there could be hidden dangers to be aware of.

Before you and your family take the plunge, consider the following factors:

  • Children should never be left unattended near water, however shallow. Young children can potentially drown in just a few inches of water.

  • Water can be very cold. Don’t spend too long in water that’s chilly and make sure you have dry clothes and a towel ready for when you get out.

  • There could be hidden currents. If you’re not familiar with the water you’re swimming in, perhaps have a chat with a local who might know more about the currents or rip tides. Don’t rush in until you know whether there are strong currents.

  • Before you get into the water, make sure there is a safe and easy way of getting back out! Rivers or lakes can have steep or slippery banks making it harder to get out, especially when you might be tired after your swim.

  • Water can be deeper than it first appears. Perhaps get a strong, confident swimmer to try out the depth before smaller, less confident swimmers get in.

  • Make sure - as far as is possible - that there’s no hidden obstacles or dangers such as shopping trolleys, glass or other rubbish.

  • If swimming with children, it may be wiser to choose an area of water that’s monitored by lifeguards. Should you run into trouble, lifeguards are equipped to access water safely and are trained in the best ways to help people.

  • Always check around for notices about what possible dangers there may be in the water.

  • Similarly, flags are often used to indicate how safe water is to swim in. For more information on what the different flags mean, take a look at the RNLI’s website

  • If you’re in charge of children or young people, avoid drinking alcohol. You’ll need to have your senses at their best, and alcohol can make you drowsy and less responsive.

  • Know what to do in an emergency. First aid skills are an excellent life skill to have and you’ll feel confident knowing what to do if an accident should occur. Take a first aid for parents course.

Outdoor swimming can be great fun, so do enjoy yourselves whilst staying safe. For more information on water safety, take a look at the RNLI's Respect the Water website. Think you're water-wise? Take RoSPA's quiz and find out...

Happy swimming!

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