Safety warning to charity and Christmas Day swimmers

Taking the plunge at the Forty Foot in Dublin on Christmas morning for the annual Christmas Day Swim. Photograph:   Frank Miller

Taking the plunge at the Forty Foot in Dublin on Christmas morning for the annual Christmas Day Swim. Photograph: Frank Miller

Tue, Dec 24, 2013, 01:03


Christmas Day charity swimmers have been issued with a special warning as the stormy and bitterly cold weather conditions look set to continue over the next few days. Anyone opting for a festive dip tomorrow has been told to be aware of the serious problems that can be caused by “cold shock”.

“Cold winter waters can cause ‘cold shock’ and hypothermia can set in within minutes, overwhelming the fittest of swimmers,” Irish Water Safety has warned. “It is a fallacy that alcohol will keep you warm when entering the water; in fact, it has the reverse effect and could kill you.”

If you are intending to swim at sea over the festive period, you are advised to throw a handful of cold water down the back of your neck before taking the plunge. Don’t stay in for an extended period – and leave the Christmas Day tipple until afterwards.

Get in, get out and get warm – that’s the advice of the body charged with keeping Ireland’s water courses safe.

Organisers of charity swims should provide details of the event to the Irish Coast Guard and the Garda. A safety officer should be appointed and they should not hesitate to defer the event if seas become rough or the weather deteriorates.

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