RNLI offers safety advice for World Mental Health Day dippers

Lifeboats Media Invite

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is offering advice to help keep cold water dippers safe and healthy ahead of events organised for World Mental Health Day this Sunday (October 10).

World Mental Health Day logo

World Federation for Mental Health

The last 18 months have seen an explosion of interest in outdoor swimming. As we head into autumn, dropping sea temperature increase the risk of cold water shock, so the RNLI is stressing the importance to newcomers of being aware of the potential dangers of taking a dip in the sea at this time of year.

Outdoor swimming groups around the country will gather together to take a dip on World Mental Health Day this Sunday, including at Lowestoft in Suffolk, where RNLI Water Safety team members Nick Ayers and Liam Fayle-Parr will be on hand to give advice.

A regular dipper himself, Liam says: ‘The benefits to both physical and mental health of dipping are well documented, and World Mental Health Day is a great time to celebrate that. During lockdown we saw a big increase in the number of people taking up dipping, and for many this is their first experience of the sea in the colder winter months. So it’s the perfect time to get across some really vital safety tips that will hopefully make the experience all the more enjoyable, and keep everyone safe.’

Nick and Liam also feature in a safety advice video for anyone considering taking up open water swimming this winter. It’s aimed primarily at people who are new to dipping, rather than more experienced open water swimmers - although the advice applies to anyone entering cold water this winter.

Nick said: ‘The sea is a wonderful resource that we can all benefit from, but it can also be very dangerous if you are unaware or under-prepared. The purpose of this video is to help you enjoy it safely. We’re asking everyone to be aware of what they can do to keep themselves and others safe, and to Respect the Water.

‘We would also always recommend checking with your doctor before trying it for the first time, especially if you have underlying health issues. Please do help us by sharing this safety advice and video with your friends, family and any swimming social media groups.’

The RNLI’s key safety advice for taking a winter dip is:

  • Never swim alone – always go with someone else to a familiar spot
  • Always check the weather forecast, including tide information and wave height
  • If in doubt, stay out – there is always another day to go for a swim
  • Take plenty of warm clothes for before and after your dip, along with a hot drink to help you warm up again when you come out of the water
  • Wearing a wetsuit will help increase your buoyancy and reduce the chances of suffering cold water shock
  • Be seen – wear a brightly coloured swim cap and consider using a tow float
  • Acclimatise to the water temperature slowly – never jump straight in
  • Stay in your depth and know your limits
  • If you get into trouble remember FLOAT to live: lean back in the water, extend your arms and legs, resist the urge to thrash around and gain control of your breathing
  • Take a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch
  • If you or someone else is in trouble call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard

Media Opportunity:

When: 11am, Sunday October 10.

Where: Lowestoft South Beach (Claremont Pier Car Park, 24 Claremont Rd, Lowestoft NR33 0BS)

What: Photo opportunity with RNLI water safety team, cold water dipping groups and Lowestoft Lifeboat, plus interviews.

Please confirm attendance with RNLI Regional Media Manager Jim Rice on 07810 658072 or at [email protected]. Interviews are also available via phone or online.

Notes to editors:

  • Interviews with Nick and Liam are available via phone, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact RNLI Regional Media Manager Jim Rice on 07810 658072 or email [email protected], or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or [email protected].

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.