In the best weeks of the year, many people prefer idyllic lakes or river sections to bathe and cool off. But beware: especially the unguarded swimming pools carry high risks. "The danger of drowning there is many times higher than at swimming pools guarded by lifeguards, " warns DLRG General Secretary Ludger Schulte-Hülsmann. The statistics of the German Life-Rescue Society (DLRG) proves this fact: Alone in the past year drowned in lakes and rivers 408 people, which is about 85% of all fatal water accidents.
So that the bathing trip does not end with a catastrophe, the following safety rules should be observed:
- Swim only at guarded swimming spots and only at officially announced times.
- Every swimmer should inform themselves before the bath with local experts about possible dangers such as currents, water depths, bridges and shipping traffic.
- In flowing waters there are strong, often unexpected currents and surprising shoals. Therefore, swim in the Elbe or other rivers only if you are fit and have a good condition. Do not overestimate your own efficiency.
- Always walk carefully into the water. An elegant jump easily leads to painful injuries or even worse. Use only freely accessible and easily visible places. Avoid stony and overgrown riparian zones, protected areas, reed belts, breeding and spawning areas.
- Before entering the water, set the place where you can leave the water without any problems. Take the flow into account.
- Do not do any extra tours. Remember, if you take a bath alone, nobody can help you or get help in an accident.
- Beware of bridge piers. The submerged pedestals are dangerous obstacles. They change the flow conditions (suction effect). The same applies to Bunenfelder. Float these areas widely.
- It is essential to keep clear of harbors, weirs, locks (all at least 100 m), industrial installations, sheet piling and fairways of ships.
- When swimming, carefully look for flotsam and underwater obstacles (discarded bicycles). Attention, danger of injury.
- In case of a fall into the water or first signs of exhaustion, the following applies in principle: Immediately swim with the current (never against it) to the shore. Sandbanks and shallow water areas are important havens in case of exhaustion.
- Please note: In tidal flow sections, this greatly increases normal river flow.
- Do not stay in the water too long. River water does not warm as much as water in lakes or baths. Note the risk of hypothermia.
- Inflatable aquatic animals, hoops and waterballs are toys and not aids for bathing and swimming. Especially air mattresses tempt to drift uncontrollably. These items have nothing to do with running waters.
- Do not drink alcohol before bathing and avoid bath immediately after a meal.