Planning to go on holiday where the seas are warm, crystal clear and stunningly blue?
Then you’ve made the right choice! The sea is one of humanity’s great resources and a natural blessing. That’s why it’s important to protect and cherish our seas but of course, your safety is also important.
So, here are a number of advice pointers about safe sea bathing – aimed particularly at those visiting tropical coastlines.
Know your limitations
Swimming in warm seas can be more draining than in more temperate waters.
If you normally spend your life in an office or other relatively sedentary occupation, then launching into Olympic-level swimming objectives could mean you quickly get into difficulties with cramp or exhaustion.
There’s no recommendation here other than “don’t do it” and to stay conservative in terms of what you’re trying to achieve in terms of distance, speed or sea conditions. In particular, remember that a pool is not the open sea, so your performance in the former might not be a perfect guide to your capabilities in the ocean.
Most experts agree that the media tends to massively exaggerate the risks from shark attacks which are, even in tropical waters, comparatively rare.
Even so, that’s no consolation to someone who has suffered such an attack. Many species of shark are predators and like it or not, we share our seas with them.
However, the risks can be reduced by following local safety advice and guidance. Seasons can make a huge difference, as do specific locations. Some beaches have effective protection and supervision in place but that won’t count for much if you ignore local safety rules or don’t even consult them to start with.
Some marine life is equipped with mechanisms for inflicting stings of one variety or another.
In some instances that’s for hunting and in others for self-defence. It doesn’t matter which for humans though because what’s important is not to get stung.
Yet again, this is a question of being sensible and taking local advice. Don’t listen to that “friend of a friend who knows someone that told them” expert. People in your holiday area or those providing your luxury holiday accommodation will know exactly what needs to be done to reduce or avoid altogether such risks.
Many beaches are protected by nets of one sort or another. In other situations, some seasons are known to have higher risks of such populations coming inshore whilst at other times of the year the risks are virtually zero. If you are planning to spend a lot of time in the water away from beaches, a wet suit (of suitable grade) is usually great protection.
The bottom line is – ask around.
In many countries, the laws governing what boats can and cannot do in swimming areas are strict and complied with by local people.
Sadly, in some countries such laws either don’t exist or are widely ignored. This can and does lead to serious or even fatal accidents for swimmers when boat operators start behaving like idiots.
Keep away from sea areas designated as being for leisure boat operations – there are usually indications on beaches and buoys at sea marking channels etc. In addition, keep your eyes open. If you see a boat owner flagrantly ignoring the rules and endangering bathers as a result, memorize their boat’s name or number and report them to the authorities.
Today, the old advice of avoiding swimming on a full stomach is widely considered to be an old wives tale by experts.
Having said that, few people would argue that swimming (or exercising for that matter) immediately after a full meal is likely to make you feel uncomfortable and possibly risk some cramping. Well worth avoiding in the sea!
However alcohol is different and has been well documented as having been a contributory factor in many drownings for one reason or another. Therefore avoid it if you’re planning to go swimming in the sea.
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