The heatwave is on its way for the weekend which means families all over will be trying to find ways to keep their cool. Recently online I have seen many families taking up water based hobbies like Kayaking and paddle boarding. Some like me and my friends have even started Wild swimming Or river swimming. However how many times have you heard horror stories about people getting into difficulties in and around the water. Here are some tips for River Swimming – Keeping Safe.
Water based hobbies in uk waters although a great way to exercise and cool off can however be dangerous if you dont respect the water.
I have complied a few tips that I have learnt along the way.
River Swimming Keeping Safe Tips
- Before you start make sure the water you have found is clean and safe to swim or paddle – Stagnent water can carry disease. In summer blue/ Green Algae can form and after heavy rain some rivers can get a discharge of sewerage in them.
- Always know your limit. – If you are not a confident swimmer stick to shallow water where you can touch the floor. Even seemingly shallow waters can drop off into deep pools in places.
- Be careful of currents, tides and waves. water is such a powerful element, waves have the potential of pushing you over.
- Check the flow. Rivers can be deceivingly fast flowing. Throw in a leaf or stick and see how fast it flows down stream.
- Cold Water Shock – Most accidents where people have become ill (Or died) from the cold water are because they just jump straight in. Take time to get your body acclimatised. The best way is to paddle and put in your wrists for a while then gently lower the rest of your body in the water. Its not so bad once you’re in!
- Slipping – River beds can be very rocky so its often best to wear some kind of non slip swimming shoe or sock. Never run near or around the water.
- Always take a swim buddy. _ If you get in to difficulty a swim buddy can help. Imagine you slipped or needed help to free you if you head wild swimming alone it could be ages before you are found by a passer by. Hyperthermia could have well set in by then and you may not make it out at all.
- Stay Sober – alcohol and water do not mix unless you are drinking the water! So dont swim drunk!
- Respect others – Many rivers have boat users or fishermen using them so be conscious of them when looking for somewhere to swim!
- Easy Exit – Its all very well jumping in the river to cool off but if you cant get back out what are you going to do? before you head into the water look around for where you can get out. River swimming can make you tire quicker and the cold water can impair you swimming ability.
- Never leave children unattended. This really goes without saying but it only takes a second for a child to drown. even in shallow water.
- Buoyancy aid – If you want to feel that bit safer while playing at the river banks you could always wear a buoyancy aid. There are some pretty cheap ones out there but make sure they fit well and can tke the weight of the wearer.
- IF IN DOUBT STAY OUT!
As always when having fun in and around the water make sure you take home any litter. Imagine turning up next week and having to swim through crisp packets and soft drinks cans. Try and use reusable items and take home any litter.
I hope these tips will help keep you a little safer. Then you can enjoy the many benefits from river and cold water swimming. Just remember to keep within your limits. Even if friends think they can manage something doesn’t mean you can!
Enjoy The heatwave