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Staying Safe in the Sea


Staying Safe in the Sea

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We managed to visit our local beach the other day. A rare occasion so far this year the weather has been disappointing and isolation/lock down issues have hampered most of the sunny opportunities that have presented themselves.

While at the beach our boys were quite fascinated by the either brave or foolish young men who throw themselves from great heights on the cliffs into the rocky waters below. Will they clear the rock face as they fall? Will they land in deep water or on a submerged rock or fellow jumper? We find ourselves afraid to watch and afraid not to watch.

Many naturist beaches are quite remote so it is very important that we look after ourselves and others to keep the beaches as safe as possible. 

Please be Sensible

The act of jumping from great heights into the sea is ironically named “tombstoning”. There is no doubt that this thrill seeking activity can be great fun but a small amount of people do die each year and many more get injured. The power with which the jumper hits the water, miscalculating the distance of the jump from the cliff side, tidal movement, objects beneath the water and even the shock caused by the change of temperature can all lead to physical harm. If you are tempted to tombstone please be careful and check out the water before had, get used to the changes of depth caused by the waves, look out for others in the sea and be aware of just how far you can jump and remember the higher the jump the harder the impact. You also have to be sure that you can get out of the water when you are in it.

Be Aware of Tides and Currents

The changing and rolling currents around rock outcrops can be deceptively hard to swim away. Several years back, at the same location where the jumpers plunged this week, we witnessed a young, relative fit man unable to escape from a pocket of sea he had found himself in. He was literally two metres from the rock face and about a twenty metre swim around the corner from the soft, safe sand but was not capable of doing anything about it. We had not yet arrived on the beach but was heading down the cliff side to it. A very capable regular swimmer on the beach wanted to go out to help him but didn't wish to get trapped himself so stood helplessly by the waters edge in a quandary. Seeing his dilemma we threw our body board down to him which he then used to give himself and the struggling man extra buoyancy. By the time we were down on the beach both men were on the shore and shortly afterward a couple of lifeguards from the nearby beach came and checked the man over. Today there is a lifesaving ring and first aid kit placed on the cliff side at the exact spot where we threw down the body board. Incidentally both the swimmer and his rescuer were naturists. When they arrived the Life Guards were the only dressed people on the beach but they didn't care they just chatted with all involved and made sure the naked swimmer was now safe, well and happy.

What was worrying while watching the struggling man was that you could see he was running out of energy. Fighting to keep afloat and to keep himself from hitting the rock was exhausting and other energy was used up by shouting for help and worrying. During the last few minutes of his time in the sea he became quiet and all of his energy seemed to be used just keeping himself barely above the water.

In short he was getting close to drowning. We think we understand drowning. We see it on TV and film don't we?

Someone splashing around like crazy and shouting for help. Everyone is going to notice that aren't they? Then it is just a mad dash out to save them. People that thrash around may well be in distress and in need of help and should be offered it but they can also still help themselves and react to a float, a change in tidal movement, find a renewed burst of energy or regain their composure.

In reality a drowning person does very little to get noticed. It is a much more subdued affair. Statistics quote around 370 000 people drown each year. It is the second biggest cause of accidental deaths in children. Around 50% of children that drown are within twenty metres of their parents and it is believed that around 10% of those will be watched by their parents unaware of what is happening.

Our Own Scary Moment

Two years ago our youngest son who was playing in the shallows of the sea with our oldest son suddenly went quiet and we knew something was wrong we swam towards him and watched as his face just stayed above the water and seemed unable to do anything but wait for us to get to him. Thankfully we did. There seemed no good reason he was only a couple of centimetres out of his depth and had gone from happily playing to drowning with no sign of struggle or distress and was so quiet that if we hadn't been watching him and very close by we would never have noticed. There did seem to be an undercurrent that had pulled him slightly out of his depth but he was a capable swimmer and should have been able to swim but for some reason just stayed in an upright position. The scariest thought was keeping an eye on him in case he went under and the fear that he would be moved from that position by the water before we got there. If he didn't move lifting him up would be easy but if he moved how would we find him? We were less than twenty metres away and the sea appeared calm and flat and yet that trip seemed to go in slow motion, the sea seemed to want to fight each step forward.

Signs of Drowning

Head low in the water or tilted back with the mouth open and at water level.

Gasping for breath or hyperventilating.

Eyes closed or open but not focusing. Hair over face or in front of eyes.

Body attempting to roll onto the back.

Legs not being used.

Attempting to swim without getting anywhere.

Appearing to climb out of the water as if using a ladder.

In most circumstances the ability to call for help is replaced by the need to just try and breath. Keeping the mouth above the water and trying to take a breath is their prime concern and usually results in quick exhales and inhales when the mouth is above the water.

Waving for help is also rare as the arms are attempting to keep them afloat and push them out of the water. Lifting the arm out of the water to attract attention is something their bodies don't feel they can allow them to do. Even reaching out to a rescuer or a ring can be impossible.

The body often remains upright in the water and is unable to get back into a swimming position and do some positive kicking.

Most drowning people can appear to be just quietly treading water. This outward appearance of not being in distress is where the danger lies in them not being rescued.

If you are looking after children remember they are noisy and like splashing around. If you see them not wasting energy being silly than it maybe because all of their energy is being used quietly keeping themselves afloat. It is when they are not attracting attention that they may need attention the most.

If You See Someone Drowning

Look out for a lifeguard. Unfortunately many naturist beaches are not manned. Call emergency services or get someone else to while you attempt to help the person in the water.

Weigh up the situation. If you go out will you just put yourself in the same danger. Rescuing a child out of their depth and tired may be no issue at all to a taller adult.

Attempt to talk them back to a place where they are not in a panic and encourage them to swim again.

Look for something that floats to throw to them. It doesn't have to be a lifeline or a ring. Maybe a football or something else filled with air.

Make others aware of what is happening so you have support and back up both in the water and on the shore.

If you do go out to them try to take a float with you. Keep a constant eye on them so you see them if they submerge. When you reach them keep them from panicking. You do not want to have them drown you! It is best to approach them from behind. Hold them under their arms with their back against your chest and then swim in reverse back to the shore.

If they are unconscious

Try to wake them. Give them a shake or pinch their earlobe. If that has no effect....

Lie them on their back and tilt the chin and head backwards. This could be enough to get them breathing. Check and feel for breath, look for chest movement and listen for breathing sounds. If there is no sign of breath...

Perform five rescue breaths. Pinch the nose and breathe into their mouth. Each breath you give should last a second. Take a deep breath between each breath you give them. This will get oxygen to their lungs.

Then perform CPR. Using both hands one on top of the other push down on the centre of their chest with your arms straight. Push down 5-6 cm each time, twice a second do this for one minute/120 compressions.

If you haven't already done so and no one else has call the emergency services now.

Then continue doing 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths until they start breathing normally or help arrives.

Some Points to Consider for Sea Safety

Get to understand the tide and the currents of any beach you visit.

Whether you are jumping, diving, swimming or walking be aware of what is below the water and be aware of others using the sea swimmers, fishermen, surfers, windsurfers, motor boats etc.

Watch out for animals that bite and sting. Maybe carry a first aid kit and some medicine like 

Don't fall asleep on a li-lo or similar inflatable. Don't drift to far out – in case you have to swim back.

Stay within a suitable distance from the shore for your swimming capability. Swimming in the sea against the tide can be a lot tougher than swimming in the pool. Be aware that if you are swimming out with the tide you will need more energy in reserve for your return swim.

Get to know high tide. You don't want to be trapped it access to and from the beach is only suitable during lower tide.

The sea can cool your body and magnify the sun so beware of burning.

Keep your bearings – seriously sometimes people can want to swim back to shore and actually find they are heading the wrong way.

If possible don't swim alone or let others know where you are and what you are doing. Similarly keep an eye for others in your party/family particularly children.

Stay hydrated. Be careful with alcohol consumption. This can effect you physically and also effect your judgement and reactions.

Watch out for broken glass and sharp objects (like fish hooks). Anything you find in the sea that shouldn't be there remove to protect our waters and it's animals, as well as yourself and others.

Respect and Love the Sea

The sea is an endless source of amusement for the young in body, heart and spirit no matter what your age really is and 
if used sensibly can help us all remain positively youthful in our approach to life.

It can be dramatic and powerful, soothing and peaceful. Sometimes we are wise to keep a distance. Other times we are drawn to it just as our ancestors have been through out time. When you enter the sea you are submerging yourself into history. Prehistoric social history and your own personal, private history. Maybe it links you to ancient man learning to walk upright. Maybe it reminds you of those endless sunny days when you were a child or even subconsciously connects you back to the womb. Maybe we yearn for the regenerating feeling of weightlessness or maybe a symbiotic connection to a body that covers 70% of the Earth. Maybe it is just FUN!

Having a good time in the sea is brilliant. Particularly if you are sensible enough to enjoy it as it should be enjoyed –Naked.

Thanks for reading - Anna and Steve.

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Anna and Steve have shared over 150 articles and blog posts on and write regularly for naturist publications. If you would like to collaborate with them on any naturist / nudist promotional activity or quote from any of their work please contact them via email at [email protected]