People planning to brave icy waters by taking part in a festive dip have been warned about the danger of suffering a cold-water shock. 

St John Ambulance has said participants in events such as the Christmas Day swims in Hunstanton and Lowestoft, Boxing Day dips in Cromer and Mundesley, and the New Year’s Day swim in Sheringham should be aware of the risks before taking the plunge. 

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Matthew Booker, associate medical director for St John, said: "We want everyone to enjoy this great tradition safely, so we're encouraging people to do their research and plan, pack warm clothes and something hot to eat or drink to warm up quickly after exiting the water. 

“By following a few simple steps, you can help reduce the risks of cold-water shock developing into something more serious." 

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Cold-water shock is a natural response which occurs when the body is suddenly exposed to water at 15 degrees or less.   

More tips for festive dippers:
-Take your time when submerging yourself in the water and splash water on your face as you get in. Also, check water temperatures and tides in UK coastal waters through various websites.  

-Even strong swimmers can experience cold-water shock, so wear a tow float, or bring something you can lean on. 

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-A bright swimming cap will also make it easier for you to be found if you need help. 

-Don't forget to let someone know where you are and go with a friend for added safety.  

-If you start to feel panicked in the water or experience difficulty breathing, roll onto your back. Although the instinct may be to swim to shore, rolling onto your back and lengthening your exhales will help you relax and call for help. If possible, exit the water and warm up quickly to avoid hypothermia.  

-Lastly, it's important to bring warm clothes and a hot drink for after. And remember, alcohol can worsen the situation, so it's best to avoid it.