As temperatures are predicted to rise this weekend and many people will be out enjoying the fine weather, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) has issued water safety tips that could save lives.

Warm weather leads people to spend time in and around water but the drowning prevention charity warns that open water remains deadly cold at this time of year and entering rivers, quarries and lakes can be fatal.

Diving or jumping into water with low temperature can cause the body to have a cold shock response, resulting in a number of involuntary physiological responses including difficulty in moving limbs, making swimming or staying on the surface difficult, and a sudden gasp which can mean water is breathed in instead of air.

RLSS UK’s Director of Lifesaving, Adrian Lole, said: “When the body is plunged into extremely low temperatures it can result in a devastating and deadly outcome. At this time of year when air temperatures hit 20 degrees, open water is especially dangerous as water temperatures range between 11 and 13 degrees.

“With the predicted heat wave we want people to go out and enjoy the water safely and we advise people to swim at open water sites where there are lifeguards to help keep swimmers safe. So, make the most of the weather but listen to advice and do so responsibly, don’t let a weekend of fun become a tragedy.”

Adrian added that the RLSS UK recognises that there are an insufficient number of public access open water sites around the UK and that the charity is working with local authorities, landowners and MPs for more designated, lifeguarded, safer swimming sites.

Around 85 per cent of all accidental drownings occur at open water sites. Many of these drownings occur due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the hazards. The basic principles of open water safety, combined with knowledge and understanding of the hazards, can increase enjoyment of open water and significantly reduce the number of incidents that occur each year.

Open Water Safety Tips:

  • The conditions at open water sites change constantly:
  • Only ever enter the water in areas with adequate supervision and rescue cover
  • Always look for warning and guidance signs
  • Swim parallel with the shore, not away from it
  • Avoid drifting in the currents
  • Do not enter fast flowing water
  • Be aware of underwater hazards
  • Get out of the water as soon as you start to feel cold
  • Never enter the water after consuming alcohol
  • Always wear a buoyancy aid or lifejacket for activities on the water or at the water’s edge (such as when boating or fishing)
  • If you want to swim wear a wetsuit if you have one.
  • Always take someone with you when you go into or near water. If something goes wrong they will be able to get help
  • If someone is in difficulty in the water shout reassurance to them and shout for help and call the emergency services (call 999 or 112)
  • Without endangering yourself see if you can reach out to them with a stick, pole or item of clothing – lie down to ensure you stay secure. Alternatively throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy or anything that will float

Top 5 Water Safety Tips near open water:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and take notice of any warning signs when out and about
  • When running or walking next to open water, stay well clear of bank edges. They are often unstable and this can create slips, trips and falls
  • Try to always walk or run with a friend
  • Always let someone know where you’re going – take your mobile phone
  • Learn swimming and lifesaving skills