Stay safe around water

With warm weather in prospect, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is issuing advice about how to stay safe in and around water.

Traditionally, the number of accidental drownings peaks during spells of warm weather, particularly when the warm conditions coincide with weekends, school holidays and national celebrations.

RoSPA’s advice particularly covers inland waters, such as rivers, lakes, lochs, quarries and reservoirs, which are the most common locations for accidental drownings throughout the year. Figures from the National Water Safety Forum show that in 2010, 420 people died from accidents or natural causes in water across the UK, and, of these, more than half (217) died as a result of incidents in inland waters.

RoSPA believes that leisure should be “as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible”, and the accident prevention charity is keen that families get out and about to enjoy the outdoors during the summer.

To enable them to have fun and stay safe, RoSPA has put together the following water safety tips:

Swimming at properly-supervised sites, such as beaches, lidos or swimming pools, is best, although RoSPA appreciates that not everyone can go to these locations

If you choose to go to an unsupervised site, think through the hazards first and ensure you know what to do if something goes wrong

Among the hazards to consider are that water can be a lot colder than you are expecting so be careful if you jump in or go for a swim to cool off. Also, there may be strong currents and underwater debris that you cannot see from the bank

Before you get into the water, consider how you are going to get out again

Be honest about your swimming ability

Remember that alcohol and swimming never mix

Parents and carers: discuss the hazards with your children and remind them that children should never swim alone at unsupervised locations.

David Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager, said: “RoSPA’s advice is to swim at properly-supervised sites, such as lifeguarded beaches, lidos or swimming pools. However, we appreciate that not everyone can get to these locations and understand the temptation to go swimming in inland waters like rivers and lakes, especially during warm weather.

“Among the hazards to consider at inland waters are that, even on a hot day, water can be a lot colder than you are expecting and there may be strong currents and underwater debris. As well as considering physical hazards like these, it’s really important to be honest about your ability to look after yourself and others around you.”