Swimming safety: Top tips
16th May 2022 Elena Manighetti
Many boaters love swimming and wading. It’s easy to forget the basics of swimming safety while having fun in the sun. Yet, it’s very important to follow them at all times - you never know when an emergency situation is going to happen.
Stay safe by following these tips.
Read the signs in the area
Look around the area you’re in and check for any signs and flags. Read the rules of the swimming pool or check that the beach warning flag is green. Bear in mind that if there are no flags it doesn’t mean that it’s safe to enter the water. Always survey the water state and decide whether it’s a good day for a swim.
Never swim alone
Always go swimming with a buddy, so you can watch out for each other. Keep an eye on your friend or family member regularly and be ready to reach them if they look in distress.
Don’t drink alcohol near the water
Consuming alcohol, even in moderate quantities, should never be done near the water - not even in a marina or by a pool. Alcohol slows your reaction time, reduces your coordination, diminishes concentration, and more. This means that you don’t have full control over your body when drinking, which can be extremely dangerous by the water. You could fall from a dock or be unable to swim to safety in a current. The risk of drowning is very high in these situations.
Supervise children near the water
Never leave children alone in the water, even if they are wearing a floatation device on. Make sure they play carefully, without wrestling and tumbling, which could make them fall unconscious. If a child goes missing, check the water first.
If you can, avoid diving into the water. It may be shallower than it looks or there may be underwater rocks or swimmers you can’t see. If you must dive, make sure there are no “no diving” signs nearby and check the water conditions in the area. Is the visibility good enough? Can you swim back to safety easily? Only dive if you feel confident it’s safe to do so.
Walk, don’t run
If you’re at the pool, walk. Running on tiles or a pool deck with wet feet typically leads to slipping and falling. You could fall to the ground and break a limb, or slide into deep water.
Take a first aid course
Having first aid knowledge becomes incredibly handy in an emergency. Artificial respiration, CPR, and rescue techniques are the main skills you will gain on a water first aid course. You will also learn to recognise the signs of drowning, so you can act fast.
It’s very easy to develop a sunburn in the water - the temperature is cool underwater, but the sun rays are reflected on the surface, making their effect even more powerful. Always wear water-resistant sunscreen and re-apply it regularly, or wear protective clothing, such as a rash vest.
Use a dive flag
If swimming in open water or in area where boats can get to, always bring a dive flag. This comes with a floatation device and signals your presence to boats in the area.
Make sure all the family knows how to swim
If you’re going to hang out near or on the water, you need to be able to swim. Falling into the water is a real possibility, so all crew on board your boat should be able to swim to safety.
Learn what to do in a water emergency
In a crisis, it’s crucial to stay calm and follow procedures carefully. Carry the required safety gear on a boat, such as throwing equipment, and call the rescue services immediately. Timing is everything.
If you'd like to know more about how to swim from a boat safely, check out this article.