Drowning Prevention Week Campaign, created by the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) took place between the18-25 June this year. The campaign aims to reduce the number of drowning and non-fatal drowning incidences that occur in the UK every year, by showing people how to be safe and have fun near water. The campaign has ended but it is important to spread the word about water safety all year around. In this post, we explain key things to know and look out when you are at the beach.
A rip current is defined as “powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water, that can move at speeds of up to 8-feet per second”. You may or may not have heard of rip currents before, but it is vitally important that you know how to tackle one if you find yourself in the middle of it! The best way to avoid a rip current it to swim at a lifeguarded beach and always between the red and yellow flags, as these mark the safest swimming conditions. It is not always possible to swim at a lifeguarded beach, however and if you are caught in a rip current, it is important to know not to fight against the current, as it will drain your energy whilst dragging you further from the shore. Swim parallel to the shore and try to swim back to land at an angle; by doing this, you are not swimming completely against the force of the current and therefore stand much more chance of survival.
Take care with inflatables
Inflatable toys and floats are not only very “in trend” but can also be extremely fun in the water! It is important, however, to appreciate that these are designed for swimming pools, where the water is calm, and the wind has limited effect on them. In the sea, waves and wind can drag an inflatable out away from shore. Supervision is key if you choose to use an inflatable at the beach; make sure that you watch your children and if you notice that they are starting to drift, act immediately. Never use an inflatable when the orange windstock is flying, as this indicates wind direction that will blow inflatables further out to sea.
Wear a wetsuit
“Anything below 15oc is defined as cold water and can seriously affect your breathing and movement. Average UK and Ireland sea temperatures are just 12oc”. If you are planning on a “staycation” this summer, it is important to know the implications of cold water on the body. Restricted breathing can send your child’s body into shock, constricting muscles and disabling limbs. Wetsuits help to counter this by maintaining body core temperature and protecting you from the elements. If you are heading away this summer, luck you! If you are staying in sunny ol’ Blighty, however, it is worth looking into one of these for your child.
Flags and signs
The following is taken from the RNLI “Beach-Safety” site:
Red and white prohibition sign
Do not enter the water at any time. Swimming and other water-related activities are not permitted.
Red and yellow beach flag
Lifeguarded area. Safest area to swim, bodyboard and use inflatables
Black and white chequered beach flag
For surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and other non-powered craft. Launch and recovery area for kitesurfers and windsurfers. Never swim or bodyboard here.
Red beach flag
Danger! Never go in the water under any circumstances when the red flag is flying.
Indicates offshore or strong wind conditions. Never use inflatables when the windsock is flying.
You can find additional water safety advice from Royal Life Saving Society UK website. At Sports Generation, we strongly believe that swimming is one of the most important life skills, a skill that should be acquired as early as possible to develop water confidence and correct technique. For more information about our swimming lessons, see our swimming programme.