British sea swimmers urged to take caution during high temperatures

Tynemouth: Wikimedia

The beautiful coast in the Northeast of the UK affords a multitude of swimming opportunities for Brits during rising temperatures across the region, but enjoying a cooling dip in the ocean does not come without risk. 

However,  the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade has advised swimmers planning to have a paddle in the sea to be wary of cold water shock. Having answered 57 callouts already this year, Peter Lilley, secretary, captain and press officer for TVLB, has advised that the North sea will never be as warm as the Mediterranean.

Cold water shock can occur in water colder than 15C and the average sea temperature in the UK is just 12C, as reported by chroniclelive.co.uk

The sudden exposure to such cold temperatures can induce a sense of panic as often breathing spirals out of control while the body attempts to regulate its temperature. This can make it difficult to keep swimming and increase the risk of further obstructions to one’s breathing by swallowing water into the lungs.

Although Lilley has said that TVLB call outs are rare, he warns that with regards to cold water shock, “if things go wrong, they tend to go really wrong – you have so little time to respond when your body starts to go into shock from the water”.

He recommends adopting the ‘Float to Live’ technique if this does happen which involves laying back in the water with arms and legs extended while you try and get your breathing under control.

Edging slowly into the water may not be as fun as diving headfirst or cannonballing into the waves, but Lilly advises that it’s the safest way to approach a cooling dip whilst enjoying the sun on the North East’s beaches.

As always, swimmers would be wise to swim in areas where lifeguards are operating, to minimise the risk of finding themselves in a dangerous position without nearby help.


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Written by

Annie Dabb

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