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Swim safe: RNLI advice on keeping safe in the water this summer

Swim Safe sessions are underway at The Island in St Ives. Credit: ITV News West Country

As the summer holidays get underway in the West Country, here's a rundown of expert advice from the RNLI on how children can keep safe when swimming outdoors and what to do if you do get into trouble.

The four 'Swim Safe' guidelines:

  • Always keep an arms length away from an adult
  • Always swim in a safe place
  • If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, relax and float on your back
  • If you see someone in trouble in the water, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

Swim Safe sessions are being held across the summer months, aiming to teach children how to stay safe swimming outdoors.

After initially launching in 2013 in Cornwall, the scheme is now in its sixth years and has expanded to 29 locations across the UK.

Children on the Swim Safe course are taught how to stay safe and what to do if in trouble. Credit: ITV News West Country

Swim Safe’s goal is for all children in the UK and Ireland to grow up with the skills to stay safe in and around the open water.

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Tolcarne beach in Newquay has been popular with surfers during the hot weather. Credit: PA

NHS guidelines note that open water swimming offers a "world of opportunities" for competent swimmers, as long as necessary safety precautions are taken.

These include:

  • Avoiding swimming alone
  • Planning your swim
  • Checking the water temperature
  • Being aware of entry and exit points
  • Being aware of tides and currents
  • Considering both water cleanliness and changing weather conditions

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Healthcare leaders in the South West are also asking families to prepare for the hotter weather this summer.

With temperatures set to soar over the coming days and weeks, Dr Lesley Ward (clinical lead for unplanned care at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG) has issued the following advice:

Although we’d encourage people of all ages to be active and make the most of being outdoors, this does mean there can be more accidents at this time of year. Therefore, we ask that people get to know their NHS service options. Minor Injuries Units in Yate and Clevedon and the Urgent Care Centre in South Bristol can treat sprains, strains, cuts, grazes, bites, minor burns, scalds, broken bones and minor head injuries and can usually see you much more quickly than A&E. Pharmacies are also an excellent resource to provide confidential and expert advice on a range of health issues.

– Dr Lesley Ward
The RNLI messages etched into the sand warn swimmers to stay safe. Credit: ITV News West Country

The RNLI in north Cornwall have been trying a different tactic to warn people about the dangers of being cut off by the tide - etching huge warnings in the sand.

It is hoped the technique will get the attention of beachgoers and help swimmers stay safe.

Flags mark the safe to swim area on Perranporth Beach. Credit: ITV News West Country