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Wild swimmers beware – cold water shock can kill

Cold-water shock can kill even strong and confident swimmers
By Waltham Forest Echo

Hollow Pond in Leytonstone (credit: Elizabeth Atkin)
Hollow Pond in Leytonstone (credit: Elizabeth Atkin)

Waltham Forest residents taking a quick dip in next week’s hot weather should be mindful of the risk of drowning, even if they are a confident swimmer.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils across England and Wales, is urging people to keep safe and learn what do in case of an emergency.  

Last year, 277 people died as a result of accidental drowning, an increase in 23 deaths from the previous year.  

One of the biggest causes of drowning is cold-water shock, which can cause even strong swimmers to struggle.


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Even in the height of summer, wild water like rivers and lakes can be as cold as 15 degrees, half that of a typical indoor pool.

Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “In a heatwave, one of the first things people do is flock to their local bathing spot to cool off and what might look like a safe place to take a dip or have a swim could in fact be a danger.

“Our advice is to brush up on your water safety skills and always swim in water that is clearly marked as safe and under the control of a lifeguard. Swimming in unknown water could lead to tragic consequences.”

If you see someone struggling, you should call 999 (or the coast guard if at the sea), tell them to float on their back and throw them something that floats.

You should also never get in the water if you have been drinking or are under the influence of drugs.


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