When the weather has been so warm like it has been recently, people are often tempted to cool down by taking a swim in reservoirs, lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water. However, cold water, and water of all types can pose many risks to people of all ages.
One of the risks associated with water is cold water. Cold water can be a danger to life as it can lead to hyperventilation, increased blood pressure and subsequent breathing difficulties. This is important to know because the water can remain dangerously cold in the summer, often being as cold as it would be in winter.
We are supporting the ‘Float to Live’ safety message from the Royal National Life Saving Institute (RNLI). In their hard-hitting video, they deliver advice on how to react should you become stricken in cold water.
Everyone who falls unexpectedly into cold water wants to follow the same instinct, to swim hard and to fight the cold water. But when people fight it, chances are, they lose. Cold water shock makes you gasp uncontrollably and breathe in water, which can quickly lead to drowning. If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, the message is to float until the cold water shock has passed and then you will be able to control your breathing and have a far better chance of staying alive.
It is important that we share this water safety advice with our school community in order to help prevent incidents occurring and we would be grateful if you could share this advice with your children at home.
What to do if someone falls into the water
The first thing to do is call for help – straightaway. Call 999, ask for both the fire service and ambulance. The emergency services will need to know where you are. Accurate information can save precious minutes. If you have a smart phone and have location services or map tool enabled, this can help.
Don’t hang up – stay on the line but try and continue to help the person if appropriate.
Never enter the water to try and save someone. This usually ends up adding to the problem. If you go into the water you are likely to suffer from cold.
Can the person help themselves? Shout to them ‘Swim to me’. The water can be disorientating. This can give them a focus.
Look around for any lifesaving equipment. Depending on where you are there might be lifebelts or throw bags – use them. If they are attached to a rope make sure you have secured or are holding the end of the rope so you can pull them in.
If there is no lifesaving equipment look at what else you can use. There may be something that can help them stay afloat – even an item such as a ball can help.
You could attempt to reach out to them. Clothes such as scarves can be used to try and reach or a long stick. If you do this lie on the ground so your entire body is safely on the edge and reach out with your arm. Don’t stand up or lean over the water– you may get pulled in.
Be mindful that if the water is cold the person may struggle to grasp an object or hold on when being pulled in.
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