RoSPA is urging parents to speak to their children about the dangers of swimming in open water ahead of the hot weather this weekend.
Although it will be very hot this weekend, the temperature of open water will still be low, and those tempted to cool off with a swim may get into difficulties with cold water shock.
Cold water shock can affect even the strongest swimmers, and every year hundreds of people drown in open water at the coast and at inland waterways such as canals, rivers and lochs.
David Walker, leisure safety manager at RoSPA, said: “The main danger when swimming in open water is cold water shock, which affects your ability to breathe, overwhelms your ability to swim, and leads to drowning. It can affect even the strongest swimmers. Even though it’s hot outside, the water temperature is low enough to trigger cold water shock.
“Other dangers to look out for are currents, hidden objects and features such as weirs which drag people below the surface.
“The UK has some of the world’s best coastline and waterways, and we encourage people to go out and enjoy them this weekend and through the rest of the summer, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers. If you are planning to go swimming this weekend, choose a safe place such as a lido or lifeguarded beach. If you find yourself in trouble, remember to float first – fight your instinct to swim – control your breathing, then kick to the side.
“We urge parents to search online for facts about cold water shock, and have that conversation with children today before they go out over the weekend.”
To help parents speak to their children about the dangers of open water, see www.rospa.com/Leisure-Safety/Water/Advice/Children-Young-People/