Be water safe as you swim

Karen Neville

water safety

The Royal Life Saving Society has invaluable advice to help you enjoy the water safely this summer

With temperatures set to soar again this week there’s always the temptation to jump in the water and cool down but make sure you do so safely, especially if you’re taking the plunge at an open water site.

Sadly, a very high proportion of accidental drownings take place at lakes, rivers, canals, reservoirs and quarries where the lure of cool water on a hot day can be too much to resist.

The Royal Life Saving Society say: “The benefits of swimming and dipping in open water are well documented. Not only does being in or on open water allow new adventure it also has documented benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing. All of these hazards can be controlled through proper organisation and planning.”

Risks to consider in open water include: the shock of cold water which can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty of getting you if you should get into trouble; lack of safety equipment; the hight of the fall or jump; depth of the water – this can change and be unpredictable; underwater objects which may not be visible; obstacles or other people in the water; uneven beds or banks; strong currents that can sweep you away rapidly; water pollution.

Sadly, a very high proportion of accidental drownings take place at lakes, rivers, canals, reservoirs and quarries where the lure of cool water on a hot day can be too much to resist.

Drowning is preventable, yet over 400 lives are lost to drowning across the UK and Ireland, every year. If you see someone in trouble, the RLSS advises:

Step 1. Keep alert
Don’t expect a casualty to be shouting for help. They may be struggling to breathe, and drowning looks very different to how it is portrayed in the movies.

If you’re not sure, shout: ‘Do you need help?’ If they say yes or don’t answer at all, it’s time to act.

Step 2. Resist temptation
Don’t be tempted to go in. The water might be cold, which will limit your ability to swim. And whatever has caused the casualty to need help is likely to happen to you too. Stay well back from the edge.

Step 3. Call 999 or 112
Call the emergency services before you do anything else, so help will be on its way.

Or ask someone else to call while you try to help the casualty. If you’re alone without a phone, find someone who can call for help.

Step 4. Shout and signal
From the shore you have a better view of the area than the casualty. Shout and encourage them to reach a life ring in the water, a jetty, or a shallower area of water. Remind them to kick their legs.

5. Find a rescue aid
If there is a life ring, throw bag (filled with rope), or other public rescue aid equipment nearby, quickly read any instructions then throw it to the casualty.

If there is no public rescue aid equipment, throw anything that will float.
Step 6. Safe rescue

Before you pull the casualty in, get down on one knee or lie down so you don’t fall in.

Remember, even if your rescue attempts fail, emergency services are on their way. Keep sight of the casualty to help the emergency services locate them quicker.

Find out more

Visit the Royal Life Saving Society ( for more tips and invaluable advice. 

Alzheimer’s memory walk

Round & About

water safety

Tony Kershaw tells us more about Wantage Life Savers who are based at Wantage Leisure Centre where they train and help others become Water Smart

Wantage Life Savers is a small club but continues to have big ambitions. For over 25 years we have competed at local, regional and national life-saving competitions. This year we are planning to compete on the Commonwealth stage.

Many members have been reaping the rewards of their twice-weekly training sessions by successful medalling at the Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) UK National Life Saving Championships year after year.

As a club, affiliated to the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), Wantage Life Savers are committed to provide volunteer-led, community-based training to raise awareness of water safety to work to prevent drowning and encourage the education of water safety. Here in the Thames Valley alone, between 2012-2016, some 66 people have died through drowning – the highest number of which have been young men aged 20-29.

Our club works to deliver training and education for the public, schools, clubs and a range of organisations to seek to reduce this number of fatalities. We have been successful in providing tuition to our members and the public in the theoretical and practical skills required to be safe in and around water such as swimming pools, rivers, reservoirs, lakes, flooded gravel pits and canals – all of which are prevalent locally.

Wantage Life Savers train at Wantage Leisure Centre on a Sunday morning, 8-9am (in the pool) and on Mondays, 8-10pm (an hour theory/life support/CPR training prior to an hour in the pool).

As well as training for competitions, club members are RLSS qualified instructors who are able to teach and assess RLSS Life Saving qualification, NRASTC qualifications and Duke of Edinburgh modules. However, our primary aim is to provide our expertise in helping children and adults to gain confidence in, on or around water, to understand the risks and to know how to cope if you (or anyone else) gets in to difficulty in the water.

On a Monday evening we work toward lifesaving or life support qualifications. Summer Sunday will be run as drop-in sessions for the general public and prospective new club members to come and learn how to be Water Smart. Our nominal club rates are adults £5 / juniors £3 per session – which helps to cover the cost of hiring the pool. The first session is free for new/prospective members

For more information

email: [email protected]