BBC Weather: Carol Kirkwood issues extreme heat warning
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The Met Office has issued its first-ever amber weather warning for “extreme heat”, with the agency warning that “more people are likely to visit coastal areas, lakes and rivers leading to an increased risk of water safety incidents”. But there’s no need to avoid a nice refreshing dip – just make sure you swim safely. Read on for how to stay safe at the beach, when wild swimming and at the pool.
Safety tips for the beach
The RNLI advises you only swim on a lifeguarded beach to ensure you have a safe eye watching you and your kids, and always swim between the red and yellow flags.
You should also familiarise yourself with rip currents – a strong current running out to sea – and know what to do if you get into one.
The RNLI says that, if a rip catches you, you should do the following:
- Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted
- If you can stand, wade don’t swim
- If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore
- Always raise your hand and shout for help
The RNLI also says it’s important to know what the different lifeguard flags mean, as these indicate different safety measures and indicate where it’s safe to swim.
Red and yellow flags
Meaning: Lifeguarded area. This is the safest area to swim, bodyboard and use inflatables.
Black and white chequered flags
Meaning: For surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and other non-powered craft. This is the launch and recovery area for kitesurfers and windsurfers. Never swim or bodyboard here.
Meaning: DANGER! Never go in the water under any circumstances when the red flag is flying.
This indicates offshore or strong wind conditions. Never use inflatables when the windsock is flying.
There are plenty more safety measures for the beach from the RNLI – head here for more information.
Safety tips for wild swimming
The safety of wild swimming spots vary depending on the nuances of the location, but there are some general tips to keep you safe.
Before you swim, identify a safe entry and exit point for yourself.
Then have a look at the current, especially if you’re swimming in a river.
You can throw a stick of leaves into the water to check the speed of the flow.
The official advice from the Wild Swimming organisation states: “When judging flow rates remember the basics: the shallower or narrower the river bed becomes, the faster the water must flow to pass through, and vice versa.
“That’s why ‘still waters run deep’. Throw a stick in the water to judge flow speed and avoid anything moving faster than you can swim.”
Another potential hazard when wild swimming is submerged objects such as fallen trees or boulders.
Take care when jumping or diving, and don’t assume that just because you’ve been to a spot before, it’s still clear – things can change under the surface very quickly and you should always do a thorough check before jumping or diving.
You can head here for more safety advice from The Rivers Trust.
Safety tips for the pool
The best thing you can do for using a pool is to ensure that you and your family can swim, so it’s worth investing in some lessons for younger children.
You should never run around a pool – slips and trips are a major hazard.
Staying sober is another big safety tip for wherever you swim, with many accidents attributed to alcohol consumption each year.
And remember, no matter where you swim, always wear sunscreen!
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