November 30, 2022
Health & Safety

Swimming in Natural Waters; and the Dangers They Pose

Swimming is fun, it is a good activity for exercise, dates, hanging out with friends and all, but this activity could also cause you grief instead of happiness when you don’t check certain conditions and observe certain safety guides while you swim and most particularly in natural water bodies.

By natural water bodies I’m referring to; Lakes, rivers, ponds and the sea. This can also be called wild swimming. What makes these so dangerous or more dangerous than swimming in the pool is the many factors that are beyond control.

Unlike the swimming pools, that has boundaries, noted or highlighted graduation of depth, treated water, regulated flow of water and most importantly the absence of flora and fauna that thrive in natural waters.

To give some depth to the dangers of swimming in lakes, ponds, rivers and the ocean… In today’s article we will see hazards associated with swimming in the wild and general safety tips to observe while swimming in lakes, ponds, rivers and the ocean.


Some hazards associated with wild swimming


Exposure to one or more of the following;

  • Chemicals dumped in these bodies of water. These chemicals could cause skin diseases, poisoning, wounds, and even more severe medical conditions.
  • This happens due to toxic/nuclear dump in the waters.
  • Life threatening bacteria specie. These bacteria could get into your system through broken skin, or when you ingest the water accidentally, or through the nose into the head and cause serious threats to the person.
  • Other Micro-organisms that can cause illness.
  • Shark attacks, this might seem unlikely but there are reports of sharks swimming into fresh waters and close to the shores of oceans… these are highly unprecedented and rare attacks in some places and more common in some places/seasons.
  • Attacks from Snakes, crocodiles, hippo… etc. unlike sharks these are more common to fresh waters and these attacks are really deadly, it might take a miracle or immediate intervention to survive.
  • Quicksand, sometimes when there is an accident report of loss of life from these kind of outings, it is not always by drowning… victims could have unknowingly entered quicksand and the more they struggled, the more the sank.
  • Natural disasters, this deserves a whole chapter of its own because there is a lot under this category. From underwater explosions to lava lakes. Click here to read this interesting article on how lakes can kill you.
  • Water current, rip tides and waves, these conditions pose great danger to divers and highly experienced swimmers how much more a regular Joe just chilling in the water, for examples riptides could literally pull you from shore into the deeper parts of the ocean.
  • Rocks and other objects underwater, people can get bashed into one of these diving head down.
  • Possible absence of life guards, if there are no life guards present… do the needful.


Safety tips to observe when wild swimming


  • Learn CPR.
  • Learn how to identify a drowning person.
  • Obey guides or signs put up.
  • Stay alert.
  • Watch children at all times.
  • Don’t drink and swim.
  • Avoid swimming in large bodies of water without a diving license and experience.
  • Carry reliable floating devices always.
  • Don’t go alone, also ensure your companion knows how to perform CPR.
  • Inquire about conditions of the area, high tides, currents, pollution, reports of animal attacks… etc.
  • Don’t jump of cliffs into the water when the path down has obstructions.
  • Don’t dive head down.
  • Don’t swim against high current, or even swim in high currents at all.
  • In cases of tidal rise alerts, even the shallow and familiar spots have gained more depth…. Stay out of the water when there are riptides.
  • When you observe signs of pollution, don’t enter the water. A good indicator is algae and water hyacinths. For more tips on knowing polluted water check this article
  • Don’t swim with broken skin.
  • Don’t swim when you are sick.
  • Avoid stirring up the sand below as much as possible.
  • Avoid the temptation of stunts like swing off a tree branch into the water.
  • Don’t swim close to surfers.
  • Don’t swim in bad weather.
  • Go with a phone.
  • Don’t wear shiny objects as you swim.

We can play safe and have fun too, being knowledgeable about the threats you can face in these situations, arming yourself with good and safe practices can go a long way to put you and your friends, family and loved ones out of harm’s way. Thank you for reading!

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