East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo

Cool down safely amid heatwave alert

Date : 27 June 2019

Float To Live.jpg

With a predicted spike in temperatures over the weekend and three swimming fatalities in France due to cold water shock, we are highlighting the risks of swimming during hot weather and giving advice on what to do about cold water shock.

Cold-water shock is the first stage of sudden immersion into water, usually with a temperature below 15C, and can instantly affect breathing and movement - even among strong and confident swimmers.

Our seas and rivers are cold enough to leave you helpless in seconds. Treat the water with respect.

Affects of cold water shock

At a water temperature below 15°C, cold water shock will:

  • cause you to inhale as you go under the water, due to an involuntary gasping reflex, and drown without coming back to the surface.
  • drastically reduce your ability to hold your breath underwater.
  • induce vertigo as your ears are exposed to cold water, resulting in failure to differentiate between up and down. 

Float To Live

If you are tempted to go in to the water during the hot spell, please remember these vital tips:- 

  • Check conditions - including water temperature - before heading to the coast. Visit magicseaweed.com for full surf reports in the UK and Ireland.
  • Wear a wetsuit of appropriate thickness for the amount of time you plan to spend in the water and the type of activity you're doing, if entering
  • Do NOT dive in to the water, try and enter the water gradually.
  • If you start to feel the effects of cold water shock, fight your instinct to swim, keep calm, simply lie back and FLOAT. You will find after approximately 90 seconds the shock will pass and you can swim to safety.
  • If you see someone in trouble in the water, call 999 immediately.

Further information

  • For further information on cold water shock, click here.

Subscribe to our occasional newsletter

Find us on Twitter and Facebook and retweet or share our posts.

Please rate this page, was it:
Please rate this page!