When summer arrives, the temptation to walk in nature and play in the countryside can be very tempting. But as inviting as a swim in a lake can be on a hot day, it can also prove fatal for some.
There are many tragic stories of people who lost their lives swimming in lakes or rivers in the height of summer, due to currents or other unfortunate events that ended their lives too soon. This is why it is essential to understand nature, lakes and rivers in particular, as they can prove unforgiving even for the strongest among us.
Did you know, for example, that rip currents can travel at the same speed as an Olympic swimmer? (4.5 mph) and can pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea. It is essential that you, your friends and family are aware of the dangers and how to survive.
Read more: A North Wales woman killed her mother in an accident after ‘loss of concentration’
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution says there are two simple skills you should know that could save a life:
- If you find yourself in difficulty in the water, float to increase your chances of survival.
- If you see someone else struggling in the water, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coast guard.
float to live
- Fight your instinct to struggle.
- Lean back, extend your arms and legs.
- If necessary, move them gently to help you float.
- Float until you can control your breathing.
- Only then call for help, swim to safety or keep floating until help arrives.
The cold water shock is triggered at water temperatures below 15⁰C. The average temperature of British and Irish waters is 12⁰C. So even in summer, the water temperature is cold enough to cause a cold water shock, which can rob air from your lungs and leave you helpless in seconds.
Floating can increase your chances of surviving cold water shock and rip currents.
Here are 6 precautions you can take to reduce your risk of getting an infection.
- Be careful not to swim in rivers or in the sea downstream from sewer overflows after a rain. Many sewers regularly overflow with raw sewage, even in light rain. This is due to the low capacity of the aging sewage system for the combination of stormwater and wastewater. Discharges also occur due to blockages in the system. So keep an eye out for telltale signs.
- Avoid swimming too close to industrial exits. I had an ear infection from capsizing too close to a factory which I have since learned regularly polluted the water. I also learned to stand up in my kayak.
- Beware of the potential for agricultural runoff from nearby fields. For example, increased runoff from soil containing fertilizers and pesticides is more likely where fields are plowed and cultivated down to the river bank. Or where livestock can access waterways there is a greater risk of bacterial infection.
- Avoid swallowing water and when in doubt keep your head above water.
- Cover minor cuts and don’t swim if you have deep cuts or are unwell. Water shoes or socks are handy to protect the feet.
- wash your hands after swimming or use a bacterial hand wash and if possible take a shower.
What’s your favorite place in North Wales when the sun is shining? Let us know in the comments
Signs you should always read:
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) warns you should be aware of the following signs when you are near water, such as lakes and streams:
Signs that warn you of danger, are always:
- Yellow background, with black symbols
- They are placed to help you spot danger that is not always obvious
They mean you need to be aware of something.
Signs that mean you shouldn’t do something are always:
- A red ring shape, with a line running through
- White background, red line and black symbols or shapes
- They tell you about things you’re not supposed to do
These signs tell you that it would be dangerous to do something or go to this place.
Signs that mean you should do something, are always:
- Blue and circle-shaped
- White symbols or shapes
- They inform you of the things you need to do
These signs tell you that you need to do something to be safe.