Swimtime urges families to be summer safe

We can’t quite believe it either. After all the challenges of 2020, the UK is at least having a scorcher of a summer. The glorious warm weather is allowing us to make the very most of the beautiful island we live on.

As the mercury starts to rise, it is so tempting to head for our nearest stretch of open water to cool off and have some much deserved fun.

A beautiful UK seaside spot.

In early August, the BBC reported that the UK Coastguard had their busiest day in over 4 years, seeing a worrying increase in water users getting into difficulties.

Here at Swimtime we want every family in the UK to enjoy water safely and here are some top tips to help ensure you and your loved ones don’t get into trouble.

Swim where there is a lifeguard

The UK has lots of great places to Swim that are monitored by fully trained professional lifeguards. In fact, the RNLI have over 200 beaches that are lifeguarded, these should be the only places you swim because although most swims take place without incident, when things do go wrong, having professionally trained lifeguards on hand can be the difference between life and death.

A UK beach that is being patrolled by RNLI lifeguards. The beach is muddy.
The RNLI lifeguard hundreds of beaches throughout the UK

Never leave a child unattended near water

Tragically every year drownings take place that were totally avoidable because a young swimmer was simply not being observed. Please don’t assume a child in distress will be obvious, drownings can occur with no sound at all and can happen very quickly. So put down that phone, tablet or book and make sure you keep watching and engaging as your swimmer enjoys the water.

Make sure you enter and exit the water safely

Just because you can get into the water safely doesn’t necessarily mean a swimmer can get out.

Rivers, lakes and canals will often see water levels drop in the summer which can mean whilst jumping in is easy, getting out is a lot harder, or in some cases impossible. Remember, only swim where lifeguards are present.

Beware of cold water shock

Even on the hottest of days, cold water shock can be a killer. Open water temperatures in the UK rarely exceeds 17 degrees so the temperature difference between even a mild British summer day and the water can be significant.

The human body is conditioned to react in a certain way and muscle fatigue can set in really fast leading to a swimmer getting into difficulties.

The Royal Life Saving Society have some helpful information on Cold Water Shock and what you can do to manage it.

Top Tip: if you get into water and find your breathing races out of control, roll on to your back and float until it stabilises.

A picture of a UK beach taken from the air showing a rock formation, clear water and a sandy beach
UK waters rarely exceed 17C even on hot days

Keep Hydrated

This is so often forgotten as the body naturally cools in the water, but it is so important to keep well hydrated on a hot summer’s day. Heat stroke symptoms can appear quickly and place a swimmer in danger.

Finally, make sure your swimmer is proficient in not just swimming but also water safety, this is a key part of the Swimtime curriculum and a vital component to a well-rounded aquatic education.