Swimming in the sea during the winter months

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Sea swimming can leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead, especially if the water temperature is just right.

However, in February and March the water temperature drops to its lowest point, averaging at around 7-8 degrees Celsius.

This can lead to increased risks of both Cold-Water Shock and if in the water long enough, Hypothermia.

Cold Water Shock

When your head and body is suddenly exposed to cold water, you may experience Cold Water Shock. Reactions to cold water shock include gasping for air, hyperventilation, increased heart rate and blood pressure. Cold water shock can leave you in a potentially life-threatening situation.


Hypothermia is caused by heat loss to your body resulting in a reduction in your body’s core temperature. Over time, this can reduce your ability to swim, risking unconsciousness and potentially death.

How to Stay Safe

If you have decided to brave the cold waters at this time of year, we have a few suggestions to help you stay safe:

  • If you suffer from any heart conditions, high blood pressure, asthma or are pregnant please see your GP or doctor before braving the water.
  • Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Avoid swimming alone, always ensure you have a friend/partner who can call for help if you get into difficulty.
  • Wear a winter wetsuit if possible.
  • Keep within your depth and know your limits.
  • If you have any doubts on the day, the best suggestion is to stay dry and plan for another day.
  • If you do get into trouble, remember to lean back in the water, extend your legs and arms and float until help can arrive. Avoid thrashing around and focus on your breathing.

Remember if you do see anyone in difficulty along the Kent coastline, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard who will be able to send your nearest Independent Lifeboat or Coastguard vehicle to assist.

#999 #ColdWaterSwimming #Rescue

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