Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Important safety message from Scottish Swimming on open water swimming

Scottish Swimming is urging people to take note of water safety advice to prevent any more drownings this summer, after two lives were lost in Loch Lomond over the last week.

Over 700 people died from drowning in the UK last year, with thousands more injuries. And with the country currently in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record we would like to remind everyone the importance of being safe in and around the water to prevent these incidents:

DO’s

- Wear a brightly coloured swimming cap and a wetsuit

- Swim only in groups, never alone, and arrange for a safety spotter on shore, and only swim with people who are experienced

- Organise a safety boat if you are going into open water, and swim as close to your boat as possible

- Swim parallel with the shore, where you can quickly get to safety

- Look for signs and advice about the specific dangers at the place where you are swimming

DON’Ts

- Jump into the water without acclimatising to the water's temperature first

- Jump into the water from extreme heights

- Leave children unattended near or in water

Swimming in open water or at the beach can be a fun activity but it is critical anyone who wishes to do so follows the correct advice and knows the dangers involved, such as uneven water depths, strong currents and the impact the temperature can have on your ability to swim efficiently.

If you or someone you know does find themselves in difficulty in the water, the RNLI’s main advice is to fight your instinct and try to float as the effects of cold water shock will pass within 60–90 seconds. Floating for this short time will let you regain control of your breathing and your survival chances will greatly increase, as opposed to kicking excessively which uses up oxygen.

RLSS UK Chief Executive, Di Steer said: “Already at the start of the summer people have lost their lives in a number of tragic circumstances which prove that water safety and knowledge is so, so important, no matter where you are or what you are doing.

“We want people to listen to our alert and take on board the safety messages we are issuing – advice that could mean the difference between life and death.”

Colleen Blair, an experienced open water swimmer who recently became the first person to swim from The Minch (Western Isles to the Scottish mainland), reiterated that while open water swimming can be a brilliant activity, safety comes first.

“It’s good fun to get out there into the open water but if you’re doing it, do it in a structured, safe manner and be as visible as possible,” she said. “And if you’re new to it then there are several authorities who offer lifeguarded areas at lochs and beaches around Scotland.”

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Police Scotland are also reminding everyone to be remain cautious around water, and to never swim after alcohol consumption.

In addition, the Loch Lomond Life Boat charity said: “The warm weather is once again proving to increase the numbers of people who visit the Loch and surrounding area.”

“We would once again encourage everyone to stay safe and be prepared.”

Remember, if you see someone in difficulty in the water:

- Shout reassurance to them and shout for help and ensure the emergency services are on their way (call 999 or 112)

- Without endangering yourself, see if you can reach out to them, extend your reach with a stick, pole, item of clothing, lie down or stay secure. Alternatively throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy, part filled plastic container, ball or anything that will float.

- Keep your eye on them at all times

For more information, visit the RLSS website, RNLI website, the Lake District Swim Safe and Boat Safe Code, and the water safety section of our Learn to Swim microsite.

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