Taking a dip in the pool or ocean can be refreshing on a hot sunny day. But what happens when storm clouds roll in and it starts pouring rain? Is it actually safe to swim during rainy weather? Here’s a look at the risks and precautions to consider before swimming in the rain.
Potential Hazards of Swimming in the Rain
Swimming in the rain does carry some added dangers to be aware of:
- Lightning – One of the greatest risks is lightning strikes, which are more common in thunderstorms with rainfall. Being in an open body of water makes you vulnerable to electrocution.
- Poor visibility – Heavy rain can reduce visibility in the water, making it easier to collide with other swimmers or boats. Lifeguards may have a harder time spotting people in distress.
- Slippery surfaces – Wet, rainy conditions lead to slippery pool decks, beaches, and diving boards. There is increased risk of falls and injury, especially when running near the water.
- Chilly temperatures – Jumping into cooler water on a rainy day can cause body temperature to drop quickly and lead to hypothermia.
- Strong winds/waves – Rain storms may produce rough waves, swells, and wind that make swimming hazardous. It also increases chances of rip currents.
- Debris and contaminants – Runoff from rain can increase bacteria, chemicals, trash, and other hazards in swimming waters.
Tips for Safe Swimming in the Rain
While not ideal, swimming in light-moderate rainfall should be okay if you take the right safety measures:
- Check forecasts – Avoid electrified storms and heavy downpours. Light drizzles or scattered showers pose less of a threat.
- Stay near lifeguards – Lifeguard supervision gives an added layer of security if trouble strikes in low visibility.
- Know your limits – Don’t try to battle waves and swells beyond your comfort level. Head inside at the first sign of worsening weather.
- Wear a bright cap – Wearing a fluorescent silicone cap makes you more visible to others in murky conditions.
- Use a flotation device – Weaker swimmers can use life vests or floats for added safety in choppy water.
- Avoid diving boards/slides – Don’t go on elevated structures that get extremely slippery when wet and increase injury risk.
- Take frequent breaks – Get out occasionally to warm up since water cools body heat faster during rainy weather.
- Rinse off after – Shower and wash swimsuits promptly after to avoid bacteria buildup from the rain.
When to Avoid Swimming in the Rain
During heavy downpours with thunder and lightning – Exit pools and water immediately.
- If visibility is extremely poor and you can’t see or be seen
- In high winds that create intense waves and choppy water
- If there are any signs of electrical storms in the area
- When local officials close the beach due to heavy rainfall or contamination
- If you hear any thunder – Don’t wait for the lightning to start before leaving the water
- When air and water temperatures are cold enough to lower body heat quickly
- If you begin shivering or limbs feel numb – Get out to prevent hypothermia
- At first sign of any debris, surge in currents, or rising waters
The Bottom Line
While the idea of frolicking in the rain can be tempting, it’s safest to avoid swimming during active thunderstorms with heavy rainfall. If uncertain, it is always recommended to consult with local authorities, lifeguards, or swimming professionals who can provide specific advice for the area and conditions in which you plan to swim. Be attentive to changing weather and use good judgment.