Natural Resources Wales and the Water Safety Wales group are asking people to #BeAdventureSmart and take extra steps to keep themselves and their families safe around water as they head outdoors to enjoy Wales’ coast and countryside.
AdventureSmart is a multi-agency campaign looking to get people informed and prepared before taking part in outdoor activities. The campaign encourages people to make sure they have the right gear, knowledge and skills for their activity, and to check the local conditions such as weather and tides.
As the school holidays begin and the weather warms up, more people than ever are heading to the beach, rivers or lakes to swim.
Swimming outdoors carries extra risks that people new to the activity or location may not be aware of. Hidden objects beneath the surface, the effect of cold water on the body, and the dangers of moving water can quickly lead people into trouble.
Joe Roberts, Lead Specialist Advisor: Outdoor Access & Recreation, Natural Resources Wales said:
“As we welcome visitors over the summer, we would like to ask people to take extra care in and around water to protect themselves and prevent putting extra pressure on the emergency services at this busy time.
“It’s understandable that on a hot day people will look to cool off in the water, but wild swimming is a very different experience to swimming indoors. People need to be responsible for their own safety and the safety of others with them by assessing the risks before they enter the water and paying more attention to what’s happening around them.
“If you’re a parent, you can help by to talking to your children about the dangers of being in water and what they need to do to be AdventureSmart.
“We also ask people to be respectful of others and protect the environment by following the advice in the Countryside Code. It is important that people do not leave litter, contaminate watercourses, disturb wildlife or damage plants while enjoying the outdoors. You should also make sure that you have permission to enter inland water, as this can often be privately owned.”
Welsh Government, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
“With more people holidaying at home this year, understandably they will be heading out to enjoy Wales’ natural environment to experience the power of nature in lifting our spirits – it’s also important that they have the correct information to keep themselves and our communities safe.
“Visit Wales’ Addo campaign has been running since restrictions were lifted in March to encourage the people of Wales and visitors to remain respectful of the countryside and the communities we visit. Promoting safety as we venture out over the summer is part of this campaign.”
Chris Cousens, Chair of Water Safety Wales and RNLI Water Safety Lead in Wales, says:
“Our advice if you’re heading to the coast is to visit a lifeguarded beach where possible and swim between the red and yellow flags.
“Coastal and inland waters provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space, but they can be an unpredictable environment, particularly during early summer when air temperatures start warming up but water temperatures remain very cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock.
“If you’re in difficulty in the water Float to Live – that means lean back, spread your arms and legs and float until the effects of cold-water shock pass and you regain your composure. Avoid swimming alone and keep children supervised at all times.”
Follow these steps to help keep you safe in and around water:
- If possible, choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags - but lifeguard patrols can’t be on every beach this summer so be AdventureSmart to keep you and your family safe.
- Check tide times before swimming in the sea and estuarine waters so you don’t get cut off by the tides.
- Keep within your limits – if the water looks rough, don’t go in.
- Don't use inflatables - they get swept out to sea, with you or your child on them.
- If possible, wear a high visibility cap and carry a floatation device when swimming.
- If you get into difficulty in the water don’t panic, stay calm; attract attention by raising your hand and shouting for help.
- Enter the water slowly. If you accidentally fall in, fight your instinct to swim until cold water shock passes; relax and float on your back until you can control your breathing.
If you see someone in trouble in the water, it’s better to call for help than put yourself at risk. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if you’re at the beach, or the Fire and Rescue Service if you’re inland.