Safety – Swamping/Hot/Cold Weather Risk

Actions in the Event of Swamping

There is a very low risk of swamping in the docks as there are no currents, tides or wash to contend with. If the water conditions are such that swamping is likely you should not boat as to do so would be in breach of The Rules of Boating.

If your boat is swamped

  • The boat will have sufficient buoyancy to stay afloat and keep your torso out of the water.
  • Stay with the boat
  • Raise the alarm
  • Await a tow back to the pontoon.

If you witness a swamping from the dock side

  • Stop what you are doing.
  • Do not direct a crew to help if the risk of swamping remains instead call the LRC and ask for a launch rescue.

If you witness a swamping whilst afloat

  • Stop what you are doing.
  • Assess the situation and raise the alarm.
  • Only help if you are not at risk of swamping otherwise call the LRC to ask for a launch rescue.

 Cold/Wet Weather Risks

Cold Shock, dry drowning, swim failure

These are only likely to happen in the event of immersion in very cold water. They are rare and the most extreme physiological responses and do not happen to everyone. Cold shock and dry drowning can happen immediately after falling in. Swim failure will normally happen once you have been in the water for a while. They are all life threatening.

Key precautions if the weather is (very) cold

  • Do not boat if you are concerned about capsizing.
  • Do not boat alone but in groups and stay together so that a rescue can be undertaken immediately.
  • If you capsize you must try and stay calm, stay with your boat and get out of the water as quickly as possible.

Dial Rapid Response Boat (London City Airport) immediately:  0207 646 0111

LRC can also help coordinate a rescue and communicate with any launches afloat:  0207 511 2211

If, when you reach the person, they have a weak/no pulse or are struggling to breath. Do not wait until you are on dry land.

Acute/Immersion Hypothermia

This happens if you experience rapid and significant heat lose. It comes in mild, moderate and severe forms. In severe cases it can be life threatening. You will be at risk of hypothermia if you capsize no matter what the weather but the risk increases as the weather gets colder. There is a low risk in cold weather if you are drenched by the rain.

Key precautions

  • Wear warm/waterproof clothing in cold wet weather.
  • Curtail an outing if the crew has been drenched and they are feeling cold.
  • If you have been drenched during an outing, change into warm, dry clothing.
  • If a boat capsizes know how to respond so that the crew can be rescued as quickly as possible.

Mild Hypothermia

If a person is able to control their shivering they probably have mild hypothermia.

DOSs with mild hypothermia

  • On the pontoon wrap them in a space blanket.
  • Get them into the LRC ASAP and into warm dry clothing.
  • Wrap them in extra clothes or blankets.
  • Give them warm drinks and high energy foods
  • If the symptoms persist dial 999.

DO NOTS with mild hypothermia

  • Try and warm the person suddenly with a hot shower or heated pads.
  • Rub/massage the skin.

Moderate or Severe hypothermia

These require immediate medical treatment. Dial 999

  • if the person cannot control their shivering.
  • Other symptoms include very pale or blue skin, confusions and disorientation.

Hot Weather Risks

Sunburn

As a result of reflection off the water sunburn can happen even on cloudy days.

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

This is when the body overheats. If you feel sick or faint stop exercising immediately and cool off. If your symptoms persist or deteriorate, dial 999.

Key precautions

  • Wear a hat and sunglasses.
  • Try and keep covered up as much as possible.
  • Apply and reapply suncream.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during & after an outing.
  • Avoid outings in the hottest part of the day.
  • Rest in the shade.

Water-borne Infectious Diseases

The risk is low but these illnesses are serious. If you swallow dock water you should see your doctor regardless of how you feel.

Blue-Green Algae, Gastro-intestinal illness, Hepatitis A

These will make you feel extremely unwell and you should seek medical advice.

Weil’s Disease – Leptospirosis

If flu like symptoms develop shortly after contact with the water (1 to 3 weeks) then see your doctor.

Sensible Precautions

  • Only drink from your water bottle.
  • Wash/shower after contact with the water.
  • Avoid immersion in the water.
  • Cover cuts and open blisters with waterproof plasters.
  • Disinfect oar handles if a blister has burst.

 Suitable Clothing

  • You should never wear loose fitting clothing which might get snagged in the equipment.
  • When it is cold make sure you wear several layers, wearing a hat and consider using poggies.
  • When it is raining make sure that you wear a waterproof top.
  • Always come to an outing with a spare set of dry clothes.