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Water safety

hand reaching out of a large body of water

The dangers associated with open water are listed below:

Alcohol and bathing

Alcohol causes loss of coordination and slows reaction times, as well as reducing the body’s core temperature and increasing the susceptibility to cold.

Temperature shock

Even during warm weather, temperatures in open waters are dangerously low. This can affect even strong swimmers, causing loss of strength and muscle coordination. Prolonged exposure to cold can cause hypothermia, inducing mental confusion and irrational behaviour.

Waterborne diseases

Open water used by animals can carry diseases such as Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease), which has flu-like symptoms and can be fatal.

Submerged dangers

Murky or fast-flowing water can conceal hazards such as rocks or discarded rubbish. Jumping in can be deadly.

Vegetation

Underwater plants can wrap around bathers, leading to breathing difficulties and panic.

Water currents

The water may look calm on the surface, but there can be strong undercurrents that could pull even a strong swimmer under the water.

Just 15cm of fast flowing water can knock an adult off their feet. Deeper water with fast currents is extremely hazardous.

Bathers are advised to: 

  • Only use venues designed for open-air bathing.
  • Pay attention to all warning signs.
  • Never let older children swim in unsupervised areas like quarries, canals or ponds.
  • Never interfere with lifesaving equipment - you might need it yourself.

 If you see someone in difficulty:

  • Shout for help and dial 999 and ask for the Fire Service at inland water sites or the Coast Guard if you're at the beach.
  • Reach with a long stick, a scarf, clothes or anything else. Crouch or lie down to avoid being pulled in.
  • Throw, a rope is best - you can then pull in the person. Otherwise throw something that will float - a ball, a plastic bottle or a lifebuoy.
  • Do not jump in to try to save them.

Videos

We have produced a number of water safety videos which you may find useful. Please note the links will take you to YouTube

How to use a throwline 

How to use a life ring 

Look out for water safety equipment 

What's hidden beneath 

Water safety dangers 

How to help someone in difficulty 

Using a reach pole for a conscious casualty 

Using a reach pole for an unconscious casualty 

How we prepare to be work on or near open water

What we wear 

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