Personal Survival

Level One & Two

Start by giving an outline of the lesson. The first week is practice, the second is the award test.

Swimmers must wear clothing throughout – Swimwear, a long-sleeved shirt and trousers, or an old pair of pyjamas.

Session 1: Introduction on poolside, swimmers dry with clothes on. Then into the pool.

Session 2: Practical test with clothes

Imagine that you are on the Isle of Wight ferry. It starts to sink. We are going to learn the best ways to stay alive in cold water.

Now, you are all good swimmers, why don’t you swim for the shore. Hands up all those that would swim for the shore.

Ask anyone who does not raise a hand for their reasons.

Currents could take you away in any direction; the rescuers will start looking where the boat sank; swimming accelerates the onset of hypothermia; flotation aids will be near the boat.

Start by practicing entries:

Slide in is the safest;

Straddle, (when you can see the surface but can’t see what is under); The head must stay above the water: spread the body wide, lean forward and step out, pressing against the water when hitting the water.

Bomb (When you cannot see the surface- fog, darkness- it protects the soft bits of the body & Unknown items under surface, sinking mud, sharp rocks etc)

Let the kids swim a couple of widths, then ask if it is harder to swim in clothes. Two more widths and ask if they feel warmer.

So, why not take our clothes off if we find ourselves in cold, deep water? (They can try it if you have time)

Tread water 2 minutes ( 1 hand above head for Level 2) Be careful, have a long pole to hand, this can be a real shock for weaker swimmers.

Why? Treading water is one of the hardest things to do with clothes on and should be avoided. Much easier to just float.

Swim 25m to a floating object.

Why? ( It’s worth the effort if it means that you can stop treading water)

Take up the H.E.L.P. position for 5 minutes.

“It’s a lot easier with a float, isn’t it? Just imagine having to do that in freezing or fast-flowing water” ( Spraying them with the cold hose will add some realism)

Heat Escape Lessening Position closes off the parts of the body that lose the most heat.

Think of standing by the bus stop on a cold day, do you stand legs apart arms in the air? Think of climbing into A COLD BED ON A WINTERS DAY? Cover up back of legs, groin, armpits. 

Swim 50 m using the float. Form a huddle on a life ring.

Swim 50m to the teacher keeping float to answer questions.

What are the 4 parts of the body that lose the most heat?

Back of legs, groin, armpits, head

You fall into cold water off the IOW ferry. Should you stay where you are or swim for the shore?

Why? (Hypothermia, exhaustion, tides, SEARCH & RESCUE) 

Should you take clothes off or leave them on?

Is it easier to tread water or use a float?

What sort of things can be floats? ( think timber, empty containers etc)

In the old days, children in swimming lessons were taught to take off their trousers and go under the water and blow them up to make a float. Was this right or wrong? (Head, exhaustion, cold)

Why should you try and keep the head above water? ( Cold, breathing, shock, ice-cream nose)

How long would it be before Hypothermia started in the sea? (2.5 minutes)

Level 1

  1. To enter water of at least full reach depth from the side of the pool by sliding in from a sitting position.
  2. To tread water for two minutes.
  3. To swim 25 metres to a floating object.
  4. To take up and hold the H.E.L.P. position  for five minutes in water of at least full reach depth.
  5. To swim 50 metres retaining the floating object.
  6. To climb out from water of at least full reach depth without using the steps or rail or any other assistance.
  7. To answer three questions on when the skills learned might be used

Level 2

  1. To enter water of at least full reach depth using a straddle entry.
  2. To tread water for two minutes with one arm out of the water (the raised hand to be above the head throughout, candidates may change arms twice throughout).
  3. To swim 25 metres to a floating object.
  4. To take up and hold the H.E.L.P. position for six minutes
  5.  To participate in a HUDDLE for two minutes using any floating object for support with at least two other similarly clothed swimmers who may be candidates
  6. To swim 100 metres retaining a floating object.
  7. To climb out from water of at least full reach depth without using the steps or rail.
  8. To answer three questions on when the skills learned might be used.

Water Safety Code:

Water Safety Code –remember to draw the answers out of the group

Spot the dangers – what are the dangers with open water? – Cold, deep, unknown, no lifeguard, away from other people, no safety equipment, tidal, currents

Take safety advice – what could be available to give you information? – Signs, lifeguard, flags, local people, other users, and your knowledge of the Water Safety Code!

Don’t go alone – why not? – There will be no-one to help you if you get into difficulties, no-one that you can send for help, make sure a grown-up knows where you are going and when you will be back.

Learn how to help – what can you do? – what is the first thing that you should do when you see someone in difficulties in the water – KEEP CALM, try to get help by shouting HELP as loud as you can, THINK about the basic rescues that can help someone else but also keep you safe (reach rescue, throw rescue), know how to phone 999 or 112 and what to say.  


Saving yourself in cold water:

Keep clothes on

Find a floatation aid, preferably a lifejacket

Stay where you are

Use the HELP position to stay warm

Stay together

Purposes of Personal Survival:

To keep yourself alive

To prolong survival times in open water (conserve heat and energy)

How and when to get help in an emergency