We’ve had a busy summer here in the Lake District, with lots of people exploring the mountains, lakes and rivers. And while we’re very keen for everyone to have fun while they’re here, we also want to make sure people know how to keep themselves, their friends and their families safe.
In August, a couple of our guides rescued a family on Derwentwater after their canoes capsized, and there have been plenty of reports about near misses and tragic incidents throughout the school holidays.
If you’re getting in or on the water with an experienced guide, then you’ll be in good hands, as they’ll have all the right safety equipment and lifesaving know-how. If you’re heading out on your own, then read some of our top tips for staying safe in the water during your visit to the Lake District (and everywhere else!).
It might seem obvious – or you might even think it’s unnecessary – but a life jacket is vital if you’re out on a water craft, whether that’s a kayak, canoe, or paddle board. No matter how strong a swimmer you are, things can happen and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You can even get life jackets for your dogs so they can be extra safe too!
If you’re swimming, wetsuits will help with your buoyancy, and tow floats give you something to rest on when you get tired or if you get into difficulties.
It’s always best to have at least one other person with you so, if one of you gets in trouble, there’s someone there to help or to inform the appropriate services. Whether or not you’re out in a pair or group, let someone at home know your itinerary.
Definitely don’t get wasted. Don’t even have one. If you’re by the water, even one drink will slow down your reactions and increase the chance of you taking risks. If you’re supervising children by the water, even if you’re not going in yourself, you should keep a clear ahead. You never know when you might have to jump into action.
Certain water activities are easy to pick up and that’s what makes them such a fantastic option for a holiday in the Lake District. However, it’s always worth having the experience yourself, or being accompanied by someone who knows what they’re doing. You’ll be amazed at how many people go out in boats, without a life jacket, and without even knowing how to swim!
How you dress will depend on a range of factors including your susceptibility to cold, your experience, water and air temperature, and the activity itself. It’s always best to do what feels comfortable. If you start to feel cold, then get out of the water. You’re not in a competition to impress anyone (or you shouldn’t be, anyway)! Make sure you towel off and have warm clothes to change into when you get out.
Make sure you’ve had a good meal before getting into the water, especially if you’re going swimming. Finishing off a water activity is also an excellent opportunity to treat yourself to some hot chocolate and a slice of cake – great for warming up and boosting your energy!
It might sound very cool to be in the water when the moon is up and the stars are twinkling. But unless you’re very experienced in your activity, we recommend admiring the heavens from the safety of the shoreline. Water adventures are best saved for when it’s light. If something happens, the dark just makes it harder for anyone to help you.
Are you setting off with hot weather and blue skies? Sounds like a perfect day for getting on the water! While it will hopefully stay like that, don’t forget to check ahead before you leave home. Check that the weather’s not likely to change, and keep an eye on wind speeds. Fighting against choppy waters, strong gales, and driving rain is no fun and will exhaust you very quickly.
It’s always good to know a friend’s got your back. So whether you’re paddling out with your best bud, or enjoying a day by the water with your family, keep an eye on one another. If someone’s taking risks, call them out on it, and check in with everyone regularly to see that they’re all okay.
There’s lots of fun to be had on the lakes and rivers (and even the sea!) surrounding the Lake District. And, with our years of experience, we know that it’s possible to stay safe and still have an amazing memorable adventure.
If you’re in the water in very hot weather, read our guide to staying safe during a heatwave.