Open Water Swimming Safety

Live Life Aberdeenshire Offers Advice Around Open Water Safety

Phase One of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown specifically offers the examples of hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming and angling as sports which can currently be participated in, within national guidelines.

Live Life Aberdeenshire would like to offer some advice around open water swimming and other activities which may take place in or around open water spaces. It is a sad fact that many incidents around open water involve people who had no intention of going in. So, whether it is your intention to enter the water or not, we urge you to please carefully consider the following when you are around open water.

The following advice should be considered when you are around open water:

  • Though social distancing guidelines still apply, we never advise taking part in open water activities alone
  • If you are not used to swimming in open water, we strongly urge you not to start now
  • There are many forms of open water activities to choose from, now is not the time to try something new. Stick to what you have experience of
  • Always remember to wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid where possible
  • Open water sites, including beaches and lochs, are not currently supervised. There is no one to help you if you get into difficulty and the emergency services may not be able to get to you in time
  • Always ensure more than one person in your group has a mobile phone and that you can accurately identify your exact location should you need to call the Emergency Services
  • Levels of blue algae will not have been monitored in recent weeks so there is a risk of illness
  • While the weather has been good over the past few weeks, the temperature of the water remains cold. Cold water shock is real, it can affect the fittest of people and seriously inhibits your ability to cope. Wetsuits do not prevent it
  • Tombstoning from anywhere; rocks, harbours or bridges, is always a bad idea
  • River and tidal flows create current, undercurrent, eddies, rip tides, waves and swells that are often quite unpredictable and will catch out the unwary
  • Off-shore winds will blow you out: do not drift on any kind of inflatable or paddle any vessel out when you may not be able to get back in.
  • Obey safety signage, it is there for a reason
  • Take notice of any lifesaving equipment in the location on arrival and please notify us if it is missing or damaged; Go to Report it at
  • Never engage in open water activities if you have been drinking alcohol
  • Scottish Government advice states that you can only meet with members of one other household in a maximum group of eight
  • You can only travel to venues within a 5 mile radius and these should be safe and fit with our recommended guidance
  • We must continue to support our frontline key workers by not making any unnecessary trips to pursue outdoor activities

We do recognise the importance of physical activity in people’s lives and the desire to get back to some sort of normality, and while we welcome the news of the easing of some restrictions, the default message remains that we should stay at home as much as possible for the time being, and not put any undue risk and pressure on the NHS and Emergency Services.

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