RNLI urges East coast’s Christmas swimmers to stay safe before they dive in

Whitby Boxing Day Dip. Picture: Ceri Oakes
Whitby Boxing Day Dip. Picture: Ceri Oakes

For thousands up and down the coast, a festive dip in the sea is part of a Christmas tradition.

RNLI lifeboat stations, community groups and charities have organised dips on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day from their local beaches.

New Years Day Dip 2018.. on Scarborough's South Bay . Pic Richard Ponter 180101f

New Years Day Dip 2018.. on Scarborough's South Bay . Pic Richard Ponter 180101f

Nick Ayers, RNLI Community Safety Partner, said: “The festive dip is now a firm family favourite in the calendar as many brave swimmers take the plunge year after year with their families and friends over the holidays.

“As the charity that saves lives at sea, we want to remind people that over winter the sea is at its coldest!

“We hope all enjoy the water, but are also aware of what do to if they or their fellow swimmers do get into trouble.

“Before going in, we urge people to remember the risks of cold water shock and what to do if it happens to them.

“The simple act of floating could save a life.”

If you run straight into cold water you are more likely to suffer from cold water shock. The best way to avoid this is to wear a wetsuit.

If this isn’t possible, walk into the sea slowly and stay shallow.

This will allow your body time to acclimatise gradually.

Cold water shock is a physiological response, which causes uncontrollable gasping. This increases the risk of you swallowing water and puts a strain on your heart- in extreme cases it can cause cardiac arrest.

If you feel you this happening to you, fight your instinct to thrash around and swim hard, instead just lie back and float. The initial shock will pass within 60–90 seconds, and when you have regained control of your breathing, you can then try swimming to safety or calling for help. This skill will give you a far better chance of staying alive.

If you see someone else in trouble in the water, fight the instinct to go in yourself. Call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

The RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, aims to raise awareness of key hazards like cold water shock, and lifesaving skills like floating.

Details of festive dips taking place on the coast are as follows:

Whitby

Whitby Lions Boxing Day Dip takes place after meeting at the Bandstand 10am.

Scarborough

Scarborough Lions’ New Year’s Day dip takes place on the south beach in the early afternoon. Dippers should register at the Rowing Club from 10.30am onwards.

Bridlington

The Bridlington Christmas Day dip takes place at 10am and is being held in memory of Founder Warwick Connelly. Meet at 9.45am on North Marine Drive near to The Sands café.

Flamborough

The Annual Boxing Day Dip, which raises funds for the Flamborough Pre-School, starts at 10.45am at South Landing.