Linden Saftey Tips - Radio Add
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Open Water Swimming Safety Tips

These tips are guidelines to help you stay safe when racing

  • Avoid Cramps.

Do stretching exercises before a race. Eat foods rich in potassium and sodium at least an hour before a race and make sure you are adequately hydrated.

  • Notify Patrol Officer of Medical conditions.

If you have a medical condition and have special medication (such as an asthma pump). Inform the Lifesaver duty officer and if possible let them know which race you are in and your number. They will then know to sight for you during the race. If you have medications, hand them your medication, so they can get it to you quickly. A lifesaver will not administer your medication, but will hand it to you. Sometimes with crowds, it is difficult to get your medication to you quickly if it is in your car or with someone somewhere on the bank.

  • Position yourself correctly at Race Start.

Know your times and understand where you would need to position yourself in a race. If you are a novice stay at the back, if you are not in the top times, stay in the middle of the group. Faster swimmers come over and around you if you are slow. You can be pushed and kept down or kicked in the head at the start of a race as faster swimmers try to get ahead.

  • Control your breathing at Race Start.

Shallow Water Blackouts occur if you hold your breath too long, or breathe too quickly, you can faint and drown.

  • Be aware of other swimmers when you reach the buoys.

At the turning buoy everyone is aiming for the tightest line so expect to be swum over, kicked, scratched and pushed, be aware and avoid injury.

  • Avoid Fatigue.

Fatigue can result in drowning, rest well the night before, avoid alcohol, and substances that may result in drowsiness. Fatigue can occur unexpectedly if you feel a bit tired raise your hand immediately so that a lifesaver can get to you.

  • Control your breathing when a panic attack occurs.

It can be scary during a race and panic attacks do occur. First: raise your arm quickly so that lifesavers can react, and get to you. Second: Focus hard on controlling your breathing until help arrives. Panic attacks can lead to blackouts in the water.

  • Sight the course correctly.

Ensure you know the route well beforehand. Sight correctly, if you wander away from the race, there may be hazards, choppy water, currents and other dangers. If you have long hair put your goggle strap under your cap, so if you lose your cap you are still able to swim and sight correctly. Raise your arm immediately so a lifesaver can get to you and help you re-join the race.

  • Avoid Hypothermia.

If you are prone to getting cold use a wetsuit that you have broken in, it is not advisable to use a new one. If you are not using a wetsuit try to acclimatise yourself to the water temperature by getting in as soon as possible so you have time to adjust. If you are cold raise your arm quickly so that a lifesaver can get to you. Hypothermia can set in fast.

Inland River/Dam/Lake Safety Tips

  • Ensure that everyone wears an approved personal flotation device or lifejacket when they are close to, or on the water.

  • Ensure that any water borne vehicle is in good condition and that all checks have been conducted before boarding the craft.

  • Do not overload boat.

  • Ensure that the person driving/using the craft has the correct qualifications for driving/using the craft.

  • Ensure that you are wearing the correct gear and clothing for that craft.

  • Ensure that there is access to a medical emergency kit.

  • Ensure that someone knows where you are going and when you will be back and approximate times. Use a radio system if it is possible.

  • Do not drink alcohol or take illegal substances before or during a trip on the water.

  • Whether you are on a craft or swimming in a body of water, always check weather conditions and do not venture out if there are signs of a storm or other bad weather.

  • Before going in the water check for hazards such as logs, rocks, depth of water, lots of reeds under water, hippos, crocodiles and other natural hazards.

  • Assess what the currents are: sometimes it appears very calm on the top but the underlying currents are very strong.

  • Do not swim near to dam walls or weirs.

  • Ensure that the banks of the river/dam or lake are not too soft or crumbling before descending them.

  • Only cross bodies of water where it is officially safe. Do not cross in areas that do not have a safe crossing point.

  • Only swim or boat in areas demarcated by the authorities. These areas are set out for you to keep your safe.

In and around the home Safety Tips

  • Ponds must be secured by placing a safety net over them.

  • Swimming pools should be fully fenced and a safety net should be over the pool. The safety net must be tight. Ensure there is nothing close to the fence that can be used to get into the pool area.

  • All inflatable pools, jacuzzis or spa tubs need to be secured or emptied.

  • When children are playing in or around water they must never be left alone. It only takes seconds to drown. Drowning is silent, you will not know they are drowning.

  • Children do not know that they do not know how to swim! Ensure that they wear SABS or ISO approved water safety flotation devices.

  • Do not drink alcohol when going swimming.

  • Do not play or run around a pool, jump from roofs into a pool or attempt daredevil acts, as you can be injured or drowned.

  • Do not leave drainage systems open, without their covers.

  • Do not leave toilet lids open. Keep them closed.

  • Bathroom doors should be locked so that children cannot go into and play in bathrooms.

  • No matter where or what your bath or shower is, never leave children on their own in the water.

  • Secure kitchen sinks and do not allow children to play with water in the sink on their own. Do not leave large bowls of water on the ground where children can reach them

Community Safety Tips

  • To keep your community safe and prevent drownings, you need to take action.

  • If you have a dam, pond, river or lake in your community, request that it be secured or fenced off by the municipality. Check that all holes, storm water drains, drainage pipes and open pits are adequately covered or secured so that adults and children cannot fall into them or get into them, especially after it has been raining.

  • Check that borehole have covers.

  • Check that open pit toilets are safe and secured.

  • Check that children and adults have safe access to rivers to fetch water or do their washing. Someone who can swim needs to be there to make sure they can assist them if they get into trouble.

  • Children should always have an adult with them when they are playing in the community areas, near water.

  • A responsible adult (who can swim, or has something that they can reach into the water with to pull someone out) should always go with children to bodies of waters such as rivers, lakes, dams, boreholes, open pits or ponds.


Linden Lifesaving Club presents these tips as a guideline to assist you. Linden Lifesaving is not legally responsible for any outcomes that occur in relation to the use of these tips