150 people drown around the UK coast each year. That's more than those killed in cycling accidents.
And the problem isn't just dangerous sports or being out in stormy seas; the majority of deaths happen when people are near the shore, doing seemingly harmless activities like swimming or walking.
In 2012, our lifeboat crews launched 8,346 times, rescuing 7,964 people. But despite their dedication, they can't possibly be everywhere all the time. Which is why we're urging you to Respect the Water – taking just a bit more care could save hundreds of lives every year.
We want everyone to enjoy the coast and the sea, and to give the water the respect it deserves.
Here are some facts and advice to help you stay safe in and around coastal areas.
Swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags. To find your nearest, download our Beach Finder app.
Never swim in the sea alone.
Don't overestimate your ability. Even the most competent swimmers can tire quickly in the sea.
Don't swim too far out of your depth.
If you get caught in a rip current, don't panic. Don't try to swim against it, or you'll get exhausted. Raise your hand and shout for help. If you can stand, wade – don't swim. If you can, swim or wade parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
Remember that, despite warm air temperatures, the water is still cold. Acclimatise gradually in shallow water.
When at the coast, stay away from the edges of cliffs, stick to marked pathways and read safety signage.
Alcohol and water don't mix – don't drink and drown.
The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland | RNLI (Trading) Ltd - 01073377, RNLI (Sales) Ltd - 2202240, RNLI (Enterprises) Ltd - 1784500 and RNLI College Ltd - 7705470 are all companies registered at West Quay Road, Poole BH15 1HZ. Images & copyright © RNLI 2013.