The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has issued new advice to swimmers after incidents at Cuckmere Haven and Hastings this year.
According to the RNLI, Covid-19 restrictions have encouraged huge numbers of people to take to the sea and rivers to try open water swimming.
Many first time swimmers have continued to swim as the temperature has dropped and seas have become 'more challenging'.
The organisation said swimmers have recently drowned at Cuckmere Haven and Hastings, prompting the release of a new safety video aimed at people who are new to the activity, encouraging people to enjoy our coastal waters safely.
Although, officials said the advice applies to anyone entering cold water this winter.
RNLI Head of Water Safety Gareth Morrison said:
"There are very well-documented physical and mental health benefits of swimming in the sea, but it can also be very dangerous if you are unaware or under-prepared.
"The purpose of this video is to help you enjoy it safely. We hope that people will share the video and the safety advice in it with their family, friends and swimming groups.
"Our volunteer lifeboat crews have dealt with a relatively high number of incidents since the end of the summer involving swimmers and dippers, so we are asking everyone to be aware of what they can do to keep themselves and others safe, and to respect the water. "
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Mr. Morrison added:
"We would also recommend checking with your doctor before trying winter swimming for the first time, especially if you have underlying health issues.
"If you're not feeling up to it that day, please stay out of the water. The sea will still be there for another swim tomorrow - and the day after. If you or anyone else does get into trouble in or on the water please call 999 or 112 immediately and ask for the Coastguard."
The RNLI's key safety advice for taking a winter dip is:
- Don't swim alone - always go with someone else to a familiar spot
- Always check the weather forecast, 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
*To donate to the RNLI's Christmas Appeal, go to: RNLI.org/Xmas