Every year people drown whilst swimming in the Rhine, as they underestimate the potential danger!
The dangerous currents create an underflow so strong that even experienced swimmers are in danger of being pulled under to the bottom of the river. These currents are unpredictable and often unidentifiable.
Waves produced by large ships can knock people over who are standing in the water and drag them into the hazardous currents.
The "tides" can change in a few minutes: Ships sailing upstream draw the water towards them, causing the water near the riverbanks to recede. The "low tide" tempts bathers further into the river, but as soon as the ship has passed, the "high tide" follows with unexpected force and pulls even adult swimmers into the main current.
The consequences of such accidents in the Rhine include broken bones, hypothermia, cardiovascular problems and, in the worst case, drowning.
Swimming with the current
Even very experienced swimmers will be unable to swim against the current. Swim with the current to the riverbank and shout out to draw attention to yourself. This is your only chance of survival.
What to do in an emergency case
Stay close to the riverbank
Don't jump into the river after another person. Many people have had to be dragged out of the river themselves after trying to rescue somebody. Sadly, some of them have had to pay for their courage with their lives.
- Call the emergency number 112:
Where is the emergency?
Take note of the signs indicating the kilometrage along the Rhine. Give a street name and house number close by, or well-known places like bridges, ports or distinctive buildings in the vicinity.
What has happened?
Wait for further questions and instructions.
- Throw in a life saver
If you see a life ring or life belt nearby, try to throw it to the person in the Rhine. Under no circumstances should you put yourself in danger when throwing the life saver in or when trying to rescue the person in danger.
- Keep the person in sight
If possible, stay close to the person in the Rhine and don't lose sight of them. Perhaps they will be able to hold on to something or to get out of the water themselves. Call the emergency number 112 again and describe what's happening to the fire service.
In case you're unable to follow the person, wait at the place where you first called the fire brigade until the emergency services have arrived. The information you give is vital and can speed up the rescue process considerably.