#WaterSafety - For many in Ireland a festive dip in the sea is part of a Christmas tradition.
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 drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, aims to raise awareness of key hazards like cold water shock, and lifesaving skills like floating.
Find out more about how to float and about cold water shock by visiting RespectTheWater.com.