There are more than 25,000 organized winter bathers in more than 93 clubs in Denmark. In addition, there are also many that winter bath without being member of a club. In the past, the average age for a winter bather was 40 years, whereas today many of the new members are under 30 years of age.
Eight Winter Bathing Tips:
BEFORE YOU ENTER THE WATER
- Never swim alone
Bath together with others, and come up from the water together. Bath preferably at least three people together, so that one can help the injured, and one can get help. If a person gets uneasy in water and must be helped up, assistance from one person will rarely be sufficient. It is documented that it requires four people to help a person onto a backboard and out of the water.
- Check bathing conditions, and know your rescue equipment
Keep an eye on the weather. Check the weather on www.dmi.dk and check water quality at www.badevand.dk, or on your municipality’s website. We recommend having a float (rescue ladder, lifebuoy, a board, etc.) on the shore, so in case of an emergency, it takes no time to fetch and use it. Ropes, lines, lights and alerting agents bell, are also good to have close by.
- Beware of ice on the stairways and bridges
Keep bridges and stairs ice free. A fall can have devastating consequences.
- Lower your body slowly into the water
Never jump headfirst in the water. Never enter ice cold water straight from the sauna. If you wait for approximately one minute, you will be cooled down, so that the temperature difference will only result in a smaller increase in blood pressure. Tests have shown that the larger the temperature difference is, the greater the risk of SEVERE blood pressure.
WHEN YOU ARE IN THE WATER
- Breathe slowly
If you breathe too fast (hyperventilate), it will make you pass out in the water.
If you get unwell, suffer from nausea and the like, which requires help from others, time is a critical factor, because everyone in the water only has a limited time to act in cold water. Chief physician, Mr Bo Belhage, has conducted experiments showing that two out of 16 subjects will pass out in the cold water within 20 seconds. The reason is hyperventilation.
- Keep an eye on each other
You automatically keep an eye on the people you already know or have met before entering the water. Give a signal to others, if you suddenly feel unwell. Cry for help or splash with your arms. Avoid grasping onto other people, if you are about to fall.
- Stay close to a staircase or a ladder
Do not go further away from a ladder or a staircase than you can grab it in a split of a second. A winter bath often lasts between 10 and 30 seconds. If you are in the water for more than two minutes, the cold water can significantly reduce the strength and the feeling in your fingers and toes, and it thus becomes a problem to be able to climb up the ladder or stairs on your own.
- Never swim underneath the ice
You cannot swim underwater in ice-cold water as long as in tempered water. The cold requires frequent breathing.
The Council has recently held a workshop where representatives from several winter swimming clubs participated.
There was, in addition to discussing the tips mentioned above, compiled a list of recommendations aimed at winter swimming clubs. The list consisted of safety equipment, design, facilities and introduction to new members.
The list will be regularly updated, and your inputs are more than welcome.
Please find the list here
Who can participate?
- All healthy persons are allowed to winter bathe
- People with heart conditions or high blood pressure should have the approval from their doctor before winter bathing
- Do not winter bathe if you have a cold, fever or otherwise feel uncomfortable
- No bathing under the influence of alcohol, medicine or drugs.
What happens to the body?
- The body secretes hormones (endorphins)
- You feel a “kick” followed by a physical well-being
- There may be minor variations in blood pressure and pulse.
How to winter bathe?
It is recommended that you become accustomed to the cold water gradually. It is best to continue bathing after the regular bathing season has ended