As some warm weather makes an appearance this weekend, a lot of us will be taking full advantage and heading towards the coast. And as we all head to the beach to soak up the rays and cool down in the sea it’s worth keeping in mind that we still have to be smart around water.
Cold water shock is one of those little-known hazards that can really put you in danger and is definitely worth knowing more about.
The dangers of cold water immersion
When cold water makes contact with your skin, the cold shock response causes an immediate loss of breathing control, possible dizziness and panic. This dramatically increases the risk of sudden drowning even if the water is calm and you know how to swim.
For those who survive this but are unable to get out of the water, progressive body cooling leads to hypothermia and muscle cooling, making swimming more difficult or impossible. Children cool even faster than adults because they are smaller and have less fat.
What to do if you fall into cold water
Avoid swimming, stay calm and relax. Float or tread water and if possible get as much of your body out of the water because you will always cool faster in water than in air.
Wearing a lifejacket with a crotch strap will enable you to lessen heat escape by keeping your legs together and elbows by your side.
A full moon on Good Friday will cause spring tides. Strong rip currents will create a higher risk than usual for swimmers. The tidal streams will run very strong, posing a risk to those boating, angling, yachting, canoeing and any other water-related activities. Stranding will also be a risk for many walkers as the lower tide will expose even greater areas of the coastline.
Parents should be particularly alert to providing constant uninterrupted supervision as Lifeguards will not be on duty at local authority beaches over the Easter weekend. Those going afloat should carry a portable Marine VHF and/or a personal locator beacon and walkers should carry a mobile phone to call 112 in an emergency.