Did you know that accidental drowning causes more than 400 deaths every year in the UK and is the third most common cause of accidental death in children? It’s staggering isn’t it? Despite the presence of lifeguards on many of our busiest beaches - who do an amazing job and prevent so many more tragedies - as well as plenty of high profile campaigns, too many still lose their lives to water. Yet, as the Royal Life Saving Society claims, the majority of drownings are preventable.
As water lovers and users ourselves we thought we’d do our bit for Drowning Prevention Week (22nd – 30th June) and share some water safety tips. So, if you who are heading off in search of sun surf and sea this summer, take a couple of minutes to read the following advice. Whilst we’d never want to hold you back – and understand how refreshing a dip in a river, lake or the sea can be, we just want you to stay safe.
- Read the signs. In the UK it’s easy to find out where is safe to swim on lifeguarded beaches – and that’s between the red and yellow flags. A red flag also means no swimming. But remember to check it’s the same where you are. ALWAYS READ THE SIGNS.
- Watch the kids. Sadly more UK children drown abroad than in the UK. So watch your kids whenever they are around water, always make sure they have appropriate safety equipment on (such as armbands) and make sure they can swim!
- Watch for hazards. It’s often difficult to see what’s under the water. Is it too deep to stand up? Is it too shallow for diving? Are there submerged obstacles? CHECK FIRST before you jump in – it could save you a trip to A&E.
- Understand the tide. It’s easy to forget about tides but they can easily catch you out. The difference between low and high tide is about 6 hours so if you are on the beach all day you could get caught out. Get a tide table or ask a lifeguard.
- Don’t drink and swim. Alcohol impairs your judgement and makes you more susceptible to cold, which is why it really doesn’t mix with water. Swimming after drinking is really dangerous and is best avoided.
- Wear appropriate safety gear. No one is too cool to not need a life jacket. They save lives. So whenever you are on a boat, kayak or canoe, wear one if it is available. If you are taking part in a water sport, wear a wetsuit to keep you warm (they are also very buoyant).
- The truth about ‘rip tides’. There is no such thing as a rip tide. However, there are rips and currents in the sea that can catch you out if you are unaware. If you get caught in a rip and are being swept out to sea, don’t swim against it. Swim perpendicular to it and then come in when you have swum out of it.
- Call for help before you dive in. If you see someone in trouble, don’t just dive in. You could get in trouble too. First send for help, then, and ONLY if it’s safe to do so, act. If you can, throw a life ring or some other buoyancy device, get help from surfers or people on boats.
Finally, make sure that you have adequate cover for any water sports or water based activities you are involved in. We cover hundreds of water sports as standard, including surfing, diving, canoeing and river walking, but not all – so please talk to us! If it’s not covered as standard, it can usually be added to your policy.