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Safety warning to festive swimmers

Swimmers thinking of enjoying a December dip along the Bridgend county borough coastline are being warned to make sure they do so safely.

Due to Covid-19, the traditional Porthcawl Christmas Day Swim can’t go ahead as usual this year, with the event going virtual in the lead up to the festive season to raise money for Wales Air Ambulance instead.

Participants are being asking to think of exciting and imaginative ways to complete their own virtual Christmas swim in the run up to 25 December.

Those who choose to take part with a dip in the sea are advised to follow RNLI advice to avoid serious injury from cold water shock, which can be a precursor to drowning. Water temperatures can be as low as 10°C on our coasts in December, with anything below 15°C defined as cold water, which can seriously affect your breathing and movement.

The RNLI’s safety advice for taking a winter dip is:

  • Never swim alone – always go with someone else to a familiar spot
  • Always check the weather forecast and surf report, including tide information and wave height
  • If in doubt, stay out – there is always another day to go for a swim
  • Take plenty of warm clothes for before and after your dip, along with a hot drink to help you warm up again when you come out of the water
  • Wearing a wetsuit will help increase your buoyancy and reduce the chances of suffering cold water shock
  • Be seen – wear a brightly coloured swim cap and consider using a tow float
  • Acclimatise to the water temperature slowly – never jump straight in
  • Stay in your depth and know your limits
  • If you get into trouble remember FLOAT to live by leaning back in the water, extending your arms and legs, and resisting the urge to thrash around to gain control of your breathing
  • Take a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch
  • If you or someone else is in trouble call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard

It’s a shame that the annual tradition of the Porthcawl Christmas Day Swim is unable to go ahead this year due to the pandemic but it is important to follow Covid-19 guidelines to keep residents safe.

If you are planning to enter the sea as part of the virtual event, please make sure you do so safely and check advice. Our seas and rivers are cold enough to leave you helpless in seconds. Treat water with respect.

Cabinet member for communities Richard Young

For more information about staying safe in the sea, visit the RNLI website. You can also check tide times at the Visit Bridgend website.

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