Tips for Swimming in Natural Bodies of Water
Though caution must always be exercised when swimming, there are special precautions to be taken when swimming in a natural body of water as opposed to in a pool or in other “controlled” bodies of water. In fact, the American Red Cross includes a special section of their water safety webpage reminding swimmers of exactly that. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when you do swim in lakes, oceans, rivers, etc.
- Avoid Swimming Alone. One way to greatly reduce the risks associated with swimming is through the buddy system. If someone nearby knows that you are swimming, they will be able to react should you need help. Ideally, of course, swimming should only be done in areas that are patrolled by a lifeguard.
- Beware Unseen Dangers. Objects underwater such as rocks, broken glass, or even water-critters are oftentimes difficult to see, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. It is also very important to avoid diving in areas that you do not know well, as hidden sandbars, rocks, etc. can cause serious or even fatal injuries.
- Watch out for Currents. Natural bodies of water often present some form of current–be it the movement of a river or the riptide of an ocean or lake. These can make swimming extremely challenging, so it’s important to pay attention and play it safe.
- Extreme Conditions Call for Extreme Precautions. Cold water can cause rapid fatigue and even hypothermia. Hot conditions and direct sunlight can also cause fatigue or even heatstroke. Storms can turn even the calmest bodies of water treacherous. Be sure to check the forecast and plan accordingly.
- Heed all Posted Signs. At many beaches, posted signs will alert you to any specific hazards. Be sure to keep an eye out for them and to obey their instructions.