Cold Water Challenge Health and Safety Tips

Preparing for your challenge

If you are doing the challenge in open water (i.e. in the sea), never undertake this challenge alone. Please enjoy this challenge with others who can assist you should it be required. Always be aware of your location and take your mobile phone to wherever you are doing your dips.

If you are taking part alone at home (i.e. ice bath, cold shower, etc), then please let your family/friends know you are doing the challenge and ensure you know where to go for help should you need it.

Check local advice and choose your locations carefully. Seek out locations which are familiar to you. Ensure it is safe for you to get in the water, and you can exit easily.

This challenge is entirely at your own risk, so please assess your ability and safety before you participate. Cancer Research UK shall not be liable for any injury, damage or loss to you or your property that might occur as a result of your participation.

If you have underlying health conditions (i.e. heart disease, asthma, lung conditions) or any other medical conditions that might be affected by exposure to cold water, or if you are pregnant,  then please seek appropriate medical advice before proceeding.

Do not take part in the challenge under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The minimum age for participation is 18. Anyone under this age should not undertake the Cold Water Challenge.

Plan your dips in daylight hours and avoid dipping in the dark.

During your challenge

Approach the challenge sensibly and don’t go beyond your capability levels. To participate in the challenge, we’re recommending a maximum of 30 seconds exposure to cold water.

Wear brightly coloured clothes, and your Cancer Research UK bobble hat so you can be easily spotted. It will also help you retain body heat while in the water.

You may also like to wear a wetsuit, which would aid buoyancy and make you feel more comfortable in the water. Neoprene boots and gloves are also a good addition to ensure your hands and feet do not get too cold.  

Cover any open wounds before entering the water.

Always enter the water slowly and avoid jumping in as this could cause cold water shock.

Only go into water as far as you can stand. Don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger by going into deep water.  

Start small, build up gradually, and never go beyond your comfort zone.

Seek help immediately if you feel very cold, woozy, nauseous, disorientated, dizzy or faint.

After your challenge

Warm up gradually after getting out of the water, dry yourself off and put on warm, dry layers.

Avoid standing around, have a warm drink and move to a warm location.

To complete the challenge, we’re asking you to enter cold water for 30 seconds per day. However, your safety is paramount, so please don’t go beyond your capability level. Start small and work your way up if necessary.  

The minimum age for participation is 18. Anyone under this age should not undertake the Cold Water Challenge.

Please wear a hat or swim cap during your challenge to help retain body heat. Cancer Research UK will provide branded bobble hats to all participants. You may also like to wear other items of clothing, such as a wetsuit to aid buoyancy and make you more comfortable in the water. If in the outdoors (sea, loch, lake, etc) we recommend neoprene gloves and booties. Ultimately you should wear what you are comfortable with. More guidance around equipment and clothing when dipping in open water can be found via the external online sources mentioned below.

There are many online sources which provide advice on entering open water. Please find a number of trusted sources below. You must take responsibility for your own safety and ensure that comply with all guidance when dipping in open water. Your safety is the number one priority, so if you have any concerns, please do not enter the water. There are many other ways that the challenge can be completed without entering open water.