With indoor pools closed for much of the year due to Covid-19, there has been an explosion of interest and participation in outdoor swimming and dipping with many people trying it for the very first time.
But, while most open water swimmers enjoy themselves completely safely, the RNLI are stressing the importance of being aware of the potential dangers of taking a dip in the sea at this time of year.
The RNLI’s key safety advice for taking a winter dip is:
Never swim alone – always go with someone else to a familiar spot
Always check the weather forecast, including tide information and wave height
If in doubt, stay out – there is always another day to go for a swim
Take plenty of warm clothes for before and after your dip, along with a hot drink to help you warm up again when you come out of the water
Wearing a wetsuit will help increase your buoyancy and reduce the chances of suffering cold water shock
Be seen – wear a brightly coloured swim cap and consider using a tow float
Acclimatise to the water temperature slowly – never jump straight in
Stay in your depth and know your limits
If you get into trouble remember FLOAT to live by leaning back in the water, extending your arms and legs, and resisting the urge to thrash around to gain control of your breathing
Take a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch
If you or someone else is in trouble call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard