Water safety

One in five people know someone who has got into trouble while swimming on holiday, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). So whether you are swimming in a pool, the sea, a river or a lake it’s important to take precautions.

ABTA and the Royal Life Saving Society UK have got together and produced a leaflet with top tips on how to swim safely when you’re abroad. This includes advice on how to find out where it’s safe to swim, local safety rules, avoiding accidents in pools, looking out for others and what to do in an emergency.

If you are swimming in open water it’s worth remembering that the water can be very cold. This can rapidly lower your body temperature and mean you are not able to swim anywhere near the distances you can in a heated pool. Over time the cold can lead to hypothermia.

Water safety checklist

Other possible dangers of swimming in open water, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, include:

  • hidden currents
  • it can be difficult to get out (steep slimy banks)
  • the water can be deeper than you think
  • there can be underwater hazards such as rubbish and rocks
  • there are no lifeguards
  • the water may be polluted and make you ill.

For more on pool safety, beach safety and swimming in the sea and when you need medical help see our guides.