Warning to festive swimmers to stay safe in the sea

Cromer Boxing Day dip.Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Brave swimmers taking part in Cromer's Boxing Day Dip which has been cancelled this year. - Credit: Archant

People thinking of venturing into the North Sea or other open water over the festive period are being warned to take extra care and be mindful of the dangers cold water can pose.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) have joined forces to appeal for the public to be alert overChristmas and the New Year if they decide to go for a festive dip.

The warning comes after many of the region's Christmas swims, including those at Cromer, Lowestoft and Sheringham have been cancelled because of coronavirus.

In light of no official events taking place, both lifesaving charities are urging anyone who does venture into the sea or other open water over the festive period to be aware of the risks and enjoy themselves as safely as possible.

One of the greatest risks posed by open water is cold water shock, which is a danger to anyone entering water which is 15°C or below. The average sea temperature around the UK and Ireland at this time of year just 6-10°C, posing a risk of hypothermia even for the most experienced of open water swimmers.

Cromer Boxing Day dip.Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Anyone thinking of heading into the sea for a festive swim this year is being warned to take care - Credit: Archant

In order to stay safe, the charities are reminding people to follow some simple rules including to be prepared, know how to warm up afterwards, to never swim alone, to stay within your depth and not to stay in the water for too long.

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And, most importantly if in doubt of how safe it is to stay out of the water altogether.

Nick Ayers, RNLI regional water safety lead, said: "No one goes into the water in the expectation of needing to be rescued but we are asking anyone considering going for a festive dip to understand the dangers and not take unnecessary risks so they can have a good time, safely.

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"We recommend checking with your doctor before trying a cold water dip for the first time, especially if you have underlying health issues."

Anyone who gets into difficulty in the water or sees anyone in trouble should call 999 or 112 immediately and ask for the Coastguard.

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