This is our little corner of the web where we will be sharing ideas. What we don’t want is for people to go three years between courses and get a bit rusty. In most circumstances that may be OK, but what if a loved one, or even a perfect stranger, needs your help and you have forgotten what to do?
This is where we can all stay up to date, so should we need to call on those skills, you may just save a life.
It’s sad news I’m bringing you today.
A 15 year old boy drowned after he jumped into the River
Thames to cool down in the heat. Hussain Mohammed apparently jumped off Donnington
Bridge in Oxford into the Thames. It was a hot day and who could blame him, I
know loads of people who jump into rivers all the time, I’ve even been known to
do it myself. Admittedly I know people who do it when there’s snow on the
ground, but that’s another story.
I’m not a strong swimmer, so when I jumped into the water
there was a group of people around to advise me. The plan was to swim behind
Justin Miles as he paddled through Reading, raising awareness for The Children’sTrust. (He had already paddled from the other side of Bristol over the past few
days). A very VERY strong swimmer, Dan ‘the fish’ Martin, gave me some words of
wisdom, Justin was nearby in a kayak, and there was a group of people watching
from the bank. We even had permission from the Local Authorities and The Environment
Agency. What could possibly go wrong? Well, apart from me jumping into the
water onto an old shopping trolley and cutting my leg open, nothing. I was
almost out of the game before it had started, but as I headed for the bank, I
looked at my leg, it was still attached and I thought, if that’s the worst that could
happen, I may as well carry on. (As I was in an Urban Canal, I should have got out and cleaned the wound, covered it with a sterile dressing and started antibiotics, (see Leptospirosis below), but I did this later). Yep, even with training, support and safety all
taken care for, accidents do happen. I guess it goes with the territory when
you spend most of your time doing crazy things.
So kids, and adults, don’t go jumping into rivers willy-nilly,
get advice, join a club, find some friends who know what they’re doing, most
important of all, learn to swim.
following is a must read and has been taken from the Wild Swimming website.
- Shallow water
can deepen suddenly. If you, your children or your friends cannot swim make
sure you scout out the extent of the shallows, set clear boundaries and keep
constant supervision. Remember that even shallow sections of fast-flowing water
can knock you off your feet. Be careful with inflatables, which can create a
false sense of security and float off into deep sections or burst. Buy a good
quality buoyancy aid for non-swimmers (about £40) and, best of all, learn to
on rocks - One of
the most common dangers in outdoor swimming. Rocks are very slippery when wet
and you don’t want to hit your head. Never run. Go barefoot to get a better
grip or wear plimsolls with a rubber sole.
and cold-shock - Outdoor
swimming in cold water saps body heat. Shivering and teeth-chattering are the
first stages of mild hypothermia, so get out of the water and warm up with a
combination of warm, dry clothes and activity. Wear a wetsuit if you want to stay
in for more than a quick dip. ‘Cold-shock’ is the involuntary gasp and rise in
heart rate that occurs as the body enters very cold water. Test the temperature
and wade in slowly unless you are already acclimatised to outdoor
and diving - Always
check the depth of the water, even if you visit the same spot regularly. Depths
can vary and new underwater obstructions (sand, rocks, branches, rubbish, TV's See Below) may
have been brought downstream or tipped in. A broken neck from a diving accident
could paralyse you for life.
Dan Martin watch TV in Reading
and solo-swimming - Swimming
cramp can occur in the calf or foot and tends to be caused by overexertion,
over-stretching and tiredness. Cramp is not more likely after eating but
dehydration, or a poor diet in general, can make you especially prone. If you
get a leg cramp, shout for help, lie on your back and paddle back to shore with
your arms. Swimming alone in deep water is foolish but, if you must, wear a
life jacket or trail a float behind you on a cord.
Weeds - Most common in slow, warm
lowland river swimming and lake swimming, weeds are quite easy to see and,
while one or two aren’t such a problem, a spaghetti-like forest can entangle a
swimmer’s legs. Try to avoid them. If you do encounter some, slow your swim
speed right down, don’t kick or thrash, and either float on through using your
arms to paddle, or turn around slowly.
algae - In
lowland lake swimming, after warm, wet weather, usually in late summer, algae
can multiply and a powdery, green scum (the blooms) can collect on the downwind
side of a lake. It’s obvious and unpleasant and can give you a skin rash or
irritate your eyes if you bathe in it, and make you sick if you swallow it.
Find a part of the lake without blooms or go somewhere else.
(cercarial dermatitis) can be caught from contact with little snails that live
on the reeds around marshy lakes and stagnant ponds. It creates a temporary but
sometimes intense itching sensation that can last for up to two days. It’s not
common, and requires no treatment, but it’s best to avoid wallowing in the bogs
when outdoor swimming!
Leptospirosis - In urban
areas sewers and storm drains may harbour colonies of rats whose urine may
carry the bacterial infection Leptospirosis. Never swim in urban rivers,
particularly canals, and be particularly cautious after heavy rains. If you are concerned
about water quality cover any open wound with a waterproof plaster and keep
your head (eyes, nose and throat) out of the water as much as possible. If you
get flu or jaundice-like symptoms three to fourteen days after swimming in high
risk water ask your doctor for a Leptospirosis test. It is simply treated with
antibiotics but if left it can develop into the more serious Weil’s disease,
which has been known to kill.
water and currentsLots of our best water moves and river swimming in and against a current
can be fun, just like swimming in seaside surf. However, you generally want to
avoid being taken downstream in an uncontrolled manner. Even shallow water, if
it’s moving fast enough, can knock you over and carry you away. Always
consider: if I do lose my footing or get swept downstream, where will I get
out? Identify your emergency exits before getting in and scout around for any
downstream hazards (obstructions, waterfalls or weirs).