Guidance Statement: Ramadan and Fasting, swimming safety considerations

20 May 2018

Ramadan and other fasting events involve people abstaining from food and often drink for a period of time, normally to observe a religious festival.

Ramadan requires fasting from food and drink during daylight hours for one month, meaning that when the festival occurs during the summer months the period of fasting is longer due to the longer daylight hours.

During Ramadan it is common for people to eat a larger than normal breakfast to sustain them throughout the day.

Guidance for Leisure Providers, Lifeguards, and Clubs

People observing a fast, whether they are customers or staff, can generally continue with their normal activities being relatively unaffected by the fast.

Within the aquatic environment there are two main considerations that Leisure Providers, Lifeguards, and Clubs should be aware of:

  1. People observing a fast (particularly Ramadan) commonly eat a larger than normal breakfast to sustain them throughout the day
  2. Hunger and dehydration may affect a person’s ability to use the aquatic environment safely, as they may suffer from dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and difficulty in concentrating

 

Raise awareness of the potential effects of swimming during a period of fasting

During periods of fasting, it may be helpful to advise swimmers of the affect that their fast may have on their safety in the water. Below is suggested text for a public information poster.

Dear Swimmer,

 

If you are currently observing a fast please be aware that:

  • Morning Swimming – swimming shortly after consuming a large breakfast may result in stomach pain, cramps and vomiting
  • Evening Swimming – you may tire and dehydrate more quickly whilst swimming, which may lead to dizziness whilst you are in the water

 

It may be worth considering what time of day you will get the most out of your swim, rather than simply sticking to your normal routine.

If you start to feel dizzy or unwell in any way during your swim, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Lifeguard Team.

Have a great swim

Where appropriate, all Lifeguards should be made aware that swimmers or colleagues will be observing a fast. They should be informed about what the fasting entails, and what affect this may have on swimmers and their colleagues.

 

Be responsive to the needs of Lifeguards

Lifeguards observing a fast should generally be able to carry out their duties as normal, however managers should be aware of the potential effects of hunger and dehydration, particularly dizziness and difficulty concentrating.

Lifeguards should be encouraged to voluntarily notify managers if they are fasting, and lifeguards should understand that they must notify their manager if they begin to struggle to maintain their normal level of vigilance.

It may also be appropriate to change lifeguard rotations or break times to enable fasting Lifeguards to continue to do their job to the best of their abilities, and consider if changes to the standard shift pattern may also be beneficial. A brief risk assessment may help to identify areas where Lifeguard activities can be adjusted to maximise performance without affecting the running of the pool.