To mention some water safety issues we all need to know?

(357 Posts)
Northernlurker Mon 26-Jul-21 16:56:56

Having read of some awful tragedies over the weekend with open water I thought I would start a thread with a few points and others can add. Because not everybody has had the same exposure to open water risks so what is common sense to one person is utterly unknown to others.

Open water in the UK is cold. Really cold. Even on sunny days. The deeper you go, the colder. This can take even fit and well people by surprise.

Don't jump in to unknown water ever. We are a rocky country populated by messy people. Water hides rocks, logs, metal and all manner of hazards.

Piers and jetty lead out from the shore to deep water so boats can be accessed. Don't regard them as an extension of the shore. The water will be both deep and cold.

Swim parallel to the shore, not out to sea.

No inflatables in the sea ever.

Tides move faster than you can walk, know what your exit route is.

If you can't swim, don't go out of your depth. Don't try and help people in trouble. You help just as much by fetching help or fetching items people in the water can hold on to.

Make sure your teenagers know these principles.

And remember 'float to live'

OP’s posts: |
BashfulClam Mon 26-Jul-21 17:17:32

The problem with Loch Lomond is that it looks nice and quiet on the surface but underneath there are strong currents and whirlpools. Water safety needs to be taught in schools. I grew up next to a huge river and near the coast and my mum had us in swimming lessons from the minute we could go. Other parents possibly can’t afford that and swimming was taught once a week in
Primary 7.

smudgemylife Mon 26-Jul-21 17:21:16

Fab topic!
Could you elaborate on the 'float to live' point? I don't think i've heard this before.

AtLeastThreeDrinks Mon 26-Jul-21 17:22:26

If you get caught in a rip tide and can’t stand to wade out of it, swim parallel to the beach.

Tealpink Mon 26-Jul-21 17:23:54

A poor chap drowned at my local beach last week. He and his friends were walking parallel to the shore and noticed the water was suddenly up to their knees and rising quickly. They headed back inland when a freak wave washed over them, possible the wash from a scheduled catamaran. The beach is renown for quicksand but this was a really shocking and unexpected incident. The fire service have been out in force handing out leaflets with OP’s advice. Awful

NotMyCat Mon 26-Jul-21 17:26:29

To add quarries are really really deep and bloody cold. And reservoirs often have metal/wire/stuff under the surface < shudders > (it's a phobia of mine!)
The most I would do is paddle in a shallow river/stream or swim in something like a waterfall pool that's shallow and I know well (you can see the bottom as it's so clear and no random drops)

FindingMeno Mon 26-Jul-21 17:29:43

If anyone experiences a near drowning it is vital to get medical help because of secondary drowning.
Drowning doesn't always look like "film drowning". People can very silently just disappear under the water.


FindingMeno Mon 26-Jul-21 17:31:27

Weils disease is a danger when swimming in rivers.
Check for exposed cuts before doing so.

NotMyCat Mon 26-Jul-21 17:31:43

Our local police are raging about it
They posted this, and then three days later drone footage with faces of kids swimming in a quarry who had been drinking

Right this isn't funny and we are not playing games anymore. Lives are at risk here. Today this group of approximately 20 youths were swimming in the Fishery at. We obtained some of their details and they were between 12 and 14 years of age and were from a mix of schools including...

Do you know where your kids have been today? If they have returned home with anti vandal paint 🎨 on them you will know that they have been here. A number of them got anti vandal paint on themselves when trying to flee from the Police.

If you do know who they are please email me and we will arrange for them to have a group input from Beckie Ramsay who tragically lost her son Dylan to cold water shock from open water swimming

Rainbowshine Mon 26-Jul-21 17:33:37

@smudgemylife float to live info from the RNLI.

If you see someone in trouble in the water call 999 and ask for the coastguard

Poshjock Mon 26-Jul-21 17:36:55 FLOAT TO LIVE

Summertime21 Mon 26-Jul-21 17:39:33

Go to a lifeguarded beach whenever possible mad check local tide times. The amount of visitors to my area that get cut off each year and need rescuing is shocking because they didn't realize the tide comes in so far

Poshjock Mon 26-Jul-21 17:44:12

Drowning is a form of suffocation. Injury of death is caused by lack of oxygen. The most important thing that you can do for someone pulled unconscious from water is BREATHING. Mouth to mouth is more important than chest compressions. CPR is different for immersion/submersion incidents and it’s not often taught on first aid courses!

Rainbowshine Mon 26-Jul-21 17:44:23

Can I just add a note about equipment and leashes for stand up paddle boards etc? If you are going into a river, canal, lake etc do not use an ankle leash, you need a waist one. Wear a wetsuit. A woman was paddle boarding in the river near us without any buoyancy aid in a vest top and shorts, she fell in and the current pushed her into a tree, and the leash could not be released as it became tangled. She was suffering from cold water shock almost immediately. Good job some experienced kayakers were there, they cut the leash and dragged her out, otherwise she would have drowned. These were three big hulking blokes pulling her out to give you an idea of the power of the water and current.

RampantIvy Mon 26-Jul-21 17:46:12

Our local Facebook pages are full of safety advice about open water right now. We have loads of reservoirs near us, and it has been a massive problem with people swimming in them.

Reservoirs also have hidden currents, underwater objects and are very cold.

This is the plug hole at Ladybower reservoir.

larkstar Mon 26-Jul-21 17:47:28

I can add a bit of a personal perspective on this. For about 3.5 years I was swimming 9 hrs a week (obviously i'd built up to this level over a couple a year or two before this time - I'd been a long distance runner for 25+ years prior to taking up swimming) - front crawl, continuous lane swimming 100 lengths/hour for 2-3 hours - 2-3 times a week so I've been pretty fit and can swim. I was in Cambridge and went to the Jesus Green open air pool - it's a long one at 90m. I went early in the summer but the water was damn cold - I can not emphasise enough just how hard it was to swim in that pool simply because of the cold - I was really surprised - about half way across I had to grab a lane divider - I could hardly breath and my limbs were like lead - I think I was just out of depth and couldn't quite touch the floor so if that can happen to me just have a think about how it would affect anyone less swim fit than I was - I have swum in cold water before, never hesitate to go in the sea, etc but it gave me another level of respect for the risk of getting in to cold water if you are going to be unable to touch the floor or grab something.

I've had shoulder decompression surgery due to the excessive amount of swimming I was doing and that hasn't worked out as well as I hoped - I might have been heading back to a pool if it hadn't been for the Covid lock-downs - frankly I am not optimistic about ever returning to swim again.

Bigtoejoe Mon 26-Jul-21 17:49:26

There was a young lad on an episode of Saving Lives at Sea who survived because he knew to float and wait for help rather than try to swim. He knew to do that because he'd seen it in an episode of the same programme.

Northernlurker Mon 26-Jul-21 17:52:14

@Bigtoejoe that kid wasn't too far away from me and he survived for a surprisingly long time before rescue. The advice really works.

OP’s posts: |
Thatsjustwhatithink Mon 26-Jul-21 17:54:54

To also just give a different way of looking at it. I grew up swimming in lakes, rivers and the sea. Loved swimming, still do. A huge part of this is being a good swimmer and being confident in the water. My gran (love her, no longer with us) taught me to swim and built my confidence. My mum and (separately) my dad encouraged me swimming in the sea. They both grew up in the local area and swimming in the sea was pretty much the only option for holidays.

The big thing here was expaining and teaching me hazards (tides, rip tides, whitewater etc) so I learnt both the dangers and the joy of being in the water. A lot of parents now haven't been given this opportunity and haven't been able to pass it on to their kids but have passed on fear and stay out. Sadly as kids grow, all kids want to piss about with their mates in the hot weather, swimming paddling and pushing each other. The ones that are poor swimmers or lack confidence in the water (like a PP, floating is a absolute must) are the ones that tire easily and panick and are more likely to get in to difficulty.

I'm lucky to spend a lot of time abroad with my job and the difference with some (mostly European) countries is startling. There's ladders off piers and jettys, swimming platforms in lakes and in the sea, and kids are encouraged to get in the water from a young age. In the UK, it's very much, don't go in, stay out you'll die and kids aren't learning to enjoy the water, build the skills and strength and be confident.

For me it shouldn't be all 'cold water shock etc'. The country I'm currently in is way north of the UK, it's defo colder.. Give kids the basics, let them test it a bit and grow up making better decisions about the water. Otherwise it's like those kids at college or university who have never been allowed any independence and they go mental at with drinks, partners etc. Just hoping there's a balance and that there are some great clubs/teachers/you tube to help people!!

LakieLady Mon 26-Jul-21 17:54:54


To add quarries are really really deep and bloody cold. And reservoirs often have metal/wire/stuff under the surface < shudders > (it's a phobia of mine!)
The most I would do is paddle in a shallow river/stream or swim in something like a waterfall pool that's shallow and I know well (you can see the bottom as it's so clear and no random drops)

When I was in my teens, a beautiful young man that I knew drowned in a flooded gravel pit. He was an accomplished swimmer, so it was really shocking, and there was never an explanation for what had happened (inquest verdict was misadventure, iirc).

Forty years later, my XH went to work at the water company that owned the gravel pit. It had been fenced off for years, but every summer he had to send staff out to fix the fencing, because people would cut the chain link to get in and swim.

Bloody fools.

Clymene Mon 26-Jul-21 17:57:39

Always check tide tides. Tides go in and out twice a day, every day. They are about half an hour later the following day. You can check one free app called tide times.

Don't let young children in the water alone, and go to beaches where there are lifeguards. Yes they're busier but they're safer.

megletthesecond Mon 26-Jul-21 17:58:55

Are lakes and reservoirs colder than the sea?

We only swim on lifeguarded beaches. I'm boringly strict about it.

Snookie00 Mon 26-Jul-21 17:59:31

@BashfulClam. I don’t think there are any currents or whirlpools in Loch Lomond - it’s a freshwater Loch with the only outlet controlled by the weir at Balloch. Just lots of deep and very cold water. The problem is that in areas there is little to no gentle graduation - just steep shelves. We live close and constantly drill the kids about cold water shock. It tends to be either teenagers or tourists who get in trouble as it looks very benign due to lack of tides/ currents.

Sprig1 Mon 26-Jul-21 18:01:55

The floating thing is great but relies on not panicking. I think that raises a wider point about resilience in children (or anyone really). It is an important life skill to learn that things go wrong and you need to be able to come up with coping strategies. Too many children are babied through life and never get in to a difficult situation. When it's a life/death one the leap is too great for them to cope.

On the water safety one specifically it's amazing how many of the reported fatalities couldn't swim. It seems to be a cultural thing and common amongst the Asian population, can anyone tell me if that's the case really re: lower swimming rates? Maybe a targeted campaign is needed. If not to get people swimming at least to keep those who can't away from the water.

BirdyBee Mon 26-Jul-21 18:02:52

There's a great campaign/advert being shown on tiny pop (little ones channel) about water awareness and has a really catchy song about if you get in danger in the water be a starfish and float along, great idea for a thread thank you x

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