‘Never swim alone […] mates matter’: Craig Carter highlights the ‘hidden dangers’ of wild water swimming, and urges river-goers to be sensible and prepared if they’re going for a dip in the sun.

The rivers around here may be beautiful at this time of year, but their beauty doesn’t make them any less dangerous. ‘Hidden Dangers’, is a new campaign from Avon Fire and Recuse Services, highlighting the importance of river-safety and providing advice and information about handling a waterway crisis.

Craig Carter, Crew Manager for Avon Fire and Rescue Services (AF&RS), has been running demonstrations of typical situations that the AF&RS are called to for the public. Through these demonstrations, Carter hopes to ‘highlight the hidden dangers of these beautiful locations when people come down to relax and have fun in the water’.

One of the key concerns the AF&RS have is for young children who play in the water. ‘It’s easy for them to come out of their depth’, says Craig Carter. Sadly, oftentimes young children can find themselves ‘washed away into the river’.

In the event of a crisis such as this, the AF&RS are on hand to help. With specialist equipment such as dry suits, rafts, power boats etc. they’re fully equipped to provide necessary aid.

Though the AF&RS are here to help, they urge revellers to go to professional, arranged, water recreational facilities. Carter emphasises that, ideally, members of the public should not go to unauthorised or unsupervised waterways.

If you do choose to go ‘wild swimming’ there are a number of things to keep in mind:

  1. Respect the water.
  2. Be wary of your temperature. You can become disorientated upon entering and leaving the water due to rapid changes in body temperature brought on by the unregulated water temperature.
  3. Beware of ‘what lies beneath’. Tripping, foot entrapment and other injuries are incredibly common and pose a significant threat to swimmers.
  4. The current. Often, people forget that natural bodies of water will rise, fall, expand etc. as time goes on. It’s easy to be pulled by these changing currents away from where you originally entered the river.
  5. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  6. If someone is in trouble, please do not get in yourself. Contact the emergency services immediately.

For more information on staying safe when wild swimming, follow this link:

https://www.avonfire.gov.uk/safety-advice/seasonal-safety/summer/river-safety

Words by Jonathan R Parsonage