With the summer and holiday season approaching, the risk for fatal bathing accidents increase. There have been reports on more accidents in recent days: after a bathing accident at Lake Kulkwitzer near Leipzig, a man died on Sunday. And a 23-year-old swimmer became unconscious and was pulled out of the Rhine; he later died in the hospital. DLRG expects more emergencies this year and warns in particular against swimming in waters where there is no supervision present.
Because of the Corona crisis most people stay at home and spend the summer in local waters. Often these are bathing spots without permanent supervision or professional lifeguards who monitor the water area. In addition, many people lack experience in the water and planned swimming courses did not take place at all this spring, because the indoor pools were closed for a long time. DLRG spokesman Achim Wiese said recently: “Overall, we are afraid that the swimming skills of our citizens will continue to wane. Germany is becoming a non-swimmer’s country”.
Good preparation, awareness of the hazards and proper safety equipment can help to contain the risks and have a good and safe time in the water. Together with Clemens Menge, head of DLRG Konstanz, we have compiled the eight most important rules.
- Know your limits!
Only go into the water if you can swim safely and feel good. Do not overestimate your personal fitness. Never swim with a full or empty stomach. And never swim under even a slight influence of alcohol.
- Inform yourself about the water you are planning to swim in!
Inform yourself about the depths, currents, special danger points or prohibitions. And do not jump into unknown water! There is a risk of injury, e.g. by stones.
- Do not go into the water alone!
It is best to swim in places where there is bathing supervision. If this is not possible, then visit the water with friends and pay attention to each other. Take an inflatable buoy, such as the one from Restube or a floating buoy with you for additional safety.
- Pay attention to the weather!
Have a watchful eye on the clouds and the wind. If the weather suddenly changes, the conditions in the water can change quickly too. In thunderstorms and strong currents, staying in and around the water can be life-threatening. Particular care should be taken when swimming in the ocean: the tides can cause unpredictable strong currents.
- Know the flag signals!
Interpretation of the flag signals on the shore: Yellow flag means: Danger especially for children and non-swimmers. Red flag means: life-threatening. No swimming allowed!
- Go slowly into the water!
The colder the water, the slower you should go in. Cool your arms and legs first. A large temperature difference can cause circulatory problems and convulsions.
- Use an inflatable buoy for additional safety!
A robust buoy can quickly de-escalate a critical situation. For example, Restube, an extremely small system that immediately inflates with a pull on the trigger and provides buoyancy.
- Protect yourself before helping a stranger!
If you see a person in distress, check if there is a lifeguard nearby. Only help if you are not at risk to put yourself in danger. Even a child can develop enormous power when in panic and put an adult in great danger. An inflatable buoy can be extremely helpful in an emergency situation, as you can pass it on with the necessary distance for your own safety.
Clemens Menge explains: “Additional buoyancy often helps immediately to distress a critical situation in the water. 5 kg of buoyancy is already enough, so you can rest to raise your airways above the water and catch your breath. This provides valuable time to gather strength and reoriented yourself. With an inflatable buoy you can also draw attention to yourself and pass it on from a safe distance.
Restube is the airbag for the water
The Restube buoy is folded in a small bag barely larger than a smartphone, about 200 grams light and weightless in the water. The inflatable backup – attached to a belt around the hip – does not interfere with any bathing or sporting activities. In an emergency situation, the Restube buoy inflates in a few seconds by pulling on the trigger using a CO2 cartridge. Back on land, the system can be equipped with a new cartridge and folded for immediate reuse. Restube can also be inflated with the mouth at any time. Restube is a compact and effective safety system for the whole family when swimming (recommended for children 10 years and older) and is suitable for all sports activities in and on the water. More and more professional emergency personnel is using Restube, such as groups from the DLRG, the water guard and fire department, as well as the North Rhine Westphalia police.