Swim safe

Swimming is one of the most popular and enjoyable activities to do while on holiday, whether that’s going for a dip in the hotel pool, in the sea, or in a local river or lake.

But swimming is not without risks and each year there are incidents where people get into difficulty in the water. So, we have put together some handy tips and advice to help you and your loved ones have a safe and enjoyable time.

Get ready for the water 

  • Before your holiday, why not test and refresh your swimming ability at your local pool, particularly if it’s been a while since you last went swimming.
  • If you’re going on holiday with children, consider if they would benefit from (refresher) swimming lessons to improve their ability.
  • Be aware that most overseas destinations are not required to employ lifeguards, so take responsibility for your safety and those in your care by following the rules at the pool and look out for warning flags and signs at the beach. 
  • Check how to contact the local emergency services in the country you are visiting, so if you see someone in difficulty you know how to raise the alarm.
  • Don’t swim at night, after a meal, under the influence of alcohol or if you have an upset stomach.

At the pool 

  • Remember, most holiday accommodations don’t employ lifeguards. 
  • You should always supervise your children, even if a lifeguard is present.
  • Always follow pool rules and pool safety signs. 
  • Check the pool layout to know where the deep and shallow ends are.
  • Only dive or jump in where you’re allowed to do so.
  • Follow any advice or instructions when participating in water related activities such as pool games, water slides, flumes and water sports.

At the beach or in open water 

  • Always check for warning flags and follow safety signage. 
  • Never swim where a sign says not to e.g. in zoned areas for jet boats or jet skis.
  • Be mindful of underwater hazards, such as reefs, rocks, sudden changes in depth and marine life, and only dive where it is permitted to do so.
  • Even if you regularly swim in a pool, don’t forget that open water swimming can be much more challenging. 
  • Get advice from your holiday provider about the best local beaches to go to and if there’s anything that you need to be aware of, especially dangerous currents or rip tides.

Extra advice for families

  • If you’re holidaying with children, make sure you talk to them about water safety at the start of the holiday, so they’re aware of the potential dangers. 
  • Accidents can happen at any time on holiday, but they’re more likely to happen on the first or last day, so be extra vigilant. 
  • Children in or near water should always be supervised by an adult and never left unattended, even if a lifeguard is present. 
  • Armbands can be a good training swimming aid for children but are not a substitute for supervision.
  • A great way to keep a watchful eye is to get in the water with them – and it’s good fun!

Follow the RLSS UK’s Water Safety Code

Check how to contact the local emergency services in the country you are visiting, so if you see someone in difficult you know how to raise the alarm.  The Royal Life Saving Society UK has a Water Safety Code that provides simple and easy to remember information to help people stay safe while having fun in, on or around water. Visit www.rlss.org.uk/safety-on-holiday for more information.