Can You Swim When It Is Raining?
Although swimming in the rain is relatively safe when there is no lightning present, plenty of additional hazards accompany swimming while it is raining. It is best to consult a lifeguard before swimming in the rain, and if there is no lifeguard in the swimming area, it is best to avoid swimming in the rain altogether. Keep reading to learn about the risks associated with swimming in the rain in different circumstances.
Safety Risks of Swimming in the Rain
The disappointment that comes when a planned pool day grows cloudy and water droplets begin pouring down from the sky is unmatched. But should you get in the pool or ocean anyway? This is an important question when there are approximately 4,000 drowning deaths per year in the United States alone. It is important to take water safety seriously; therefore, many factors should be considered before jumping in to swim in the rain.
The first factor that should be considered is the amount of rain you are dealing with. A light shower may not decrease visibility much; however, with the darkness of clouds and a solid downpour, a swimmer’s visibility can be seriously impaired. Vision is important in swimming, and if your vision is not at its best, it is less likely you will see hazards in the water.
Another factor to consider is your bodily reactions to both the rain temperatures and the temperatures in the air after leaving the water. Cool rain can increase your chances of developing hypothermia after a swim. Dangers outside of the body of water you are swimming in are increased in wet conditions, too. Walking around the pool or across muddy terrain could lead to falls, which in a worst-case scenario, could lead to drowning. Often, along with rain, storms bring higher winds. This could lead to debris floating or flying around, which again could increase the chances of injuries.
Despite how disappointing it can be when swimming plans are interrupted by inclement weather, it is probably best to avoid the pool or the ocean on a rainy day. If you do decide to continue with your swimming plans, consult a lifeguard before entering the water.
Swimming in Thunderstorms
One thing that should, without a doubt, be avoided is swimming during thunderstorms. The lightning produced during a thunderstorm makes it unsafe to swim both inside and outside. Water is a conduit of electricity, meaning it is a substance that allows electricity to flow through it. Lightning also typically strikes the highest object, which depending on the landscape where a person is swimming, could very well be the swimmer's head just above the water. Lightning is unpredictable, and each bolt of lighting has different levels of power and electrical charges, meaning that a single bolt could travel 10 meters or it could travel over 100 meters. Lightning is also particularly destructive to swimmers because it travels horizontally across the water’s surface. In other words, it won’t just touch down in one place, but instead it will ripple out, shocking anything in the vicinity of the strike.
Lighting is usually preceded by thunder, so if you are swimming and hear rumbles in the sky (even if you have not seen any lighting bolts yet), it is time to get out of the water. While you certainly need to avoid swimming during thunderstorms, remember that even if you do not hear thunder or see lightning, even simple rainstorms carry additional risks for swimmers, and more serious weather may be on its way.
Swimming in the Ocean
The ocean is one of the most enjoyable places to swim, but swimming in the ocean during a rainstorm is especially dangerous. Stronger winds associated with rainstorms can create rougher, harsher waters, and can even affect currents and tides.
Visibility is particularly important to consider when swimming in the ocean. During rainstorms, you may not realize how far you’ve wandered from shore, which can be extremely dangerous. Decreased visibility may also make it harder to see debris, marine animals, and might even cause a degree of disorientation.
Heavier rains also result in runoff from the ground and other waterways into the ocean. Garbage, algae, pollen, dirt, and even sewage, are just a few pollutants that become more present in the ocean during a severe storm. While it may be tempting to continue your beach day in the rain, consider all of these risks before swimming in the ocean.