Read this before you head into the water at a Christmas dip

Last year's Dip For Heroes in BridlingtonLast year's Dip For Heroes in Bridlington
Last year's Dip For Heroes in Bridlington
A swim in the chilly North Sea on Christmas Day and Boxing Day has become a tradition for hundreds of people in the Bridlington area.

But the RNLI has asked everyone planning to go into the icy waters to read its safety advice before leaving dry land.

Dips are being held in Bridlington on Christmas Day morning and on Boxing Day morning, when there will also be the charity event at Flamborough South Landing.

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Nick Ayers, RNLI community safety partner, said: ‘The festive dip is now a firm family favourite in the calendar as many brave swimmers take the plunge year after year with their families and friends over the holidays.

‘As the charity that saves lives at sea, we want to remind people that over winter the sea is at its coldest.

"We hope all enjoy the water, but are also aware of what do to if they or their fellow swimmers do get into trouble.

"Before going in, we urge people to remember the risks of cold water shock and what to do if it happens to them. The simple act of floating could save a life.’

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If you run straight into cold water you are more likely to suffer from cold water shock. The best way to avoid this is to wear a wetsuit. If this isn’t possible, walk into the sea slowly and stay shallow. This will allow your body time to acclimatise gradually.

Cold water shock is a physiological response, which causes uncontrollable gasping. This increases the risk of you swallowing water and puts a strain on your heart- in extreme cases it can cause cardiac arrest. If you feel you this happening to you, fight your instinct to thrash around and swim hard, instead just lie back and float.

The initial shock will pass within 60–90 seconds, and when you have regained control of your breathing, you can then try swimming to safety or calling for help. This skill will give you a far better chance of staying alive.

If you see someone else in trouble in the water, fight the instinct to go in yourself. Call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

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Nick added: ‘There are many local dips taking place at the coast over Christmas. I am taking part in the dip myself this year, making sure I’m part of an organised event and that I stay in a group.

"We encourage those who plan on taking part to join a scheduled event, as they will be in good company with other swimmers, as well as safety staff.’