'The day I thought I’d taken my last breath'

Uzma Khan, 28, recalls the day she almost drowned – and how, as captured on video, Blackpool lifeboat volunteers saved her life.

‘It was the evening of 28 June, and I was fasting. I was struggling to pass the time – but the weather was very good so I went for a walk on the sand at Blackpool, near Queen’s Promenade. I walked until I noticed there was no sand in front of me, and then turned around. That’s when I realised I had water all around me.

‘I rang 999, and a couple sitting on the shore did the same. At first I had a lot of space. But then the water started getting nearer. Within 5 or 6 minutes, I was in the sea. It was a calm day, not big waves, not much wind. But the tide came in so quickly.

‘After dialling 999 I had stayed on the phone and the Coastguard talked to me. They told me to stay calm. But the water was soon up to my neck – with just my head, my hand and the phone above it.

‘I couldn’t swim – I don’t know how. I said yes to everything the man on the phone said – that I would try and float, and take breaths. I took three breaths, then a fourth one. I thought: "That is it. This is my time – why? I don’t want to die like this." Then I started thinking about everyone I knew – my family, my partner.

‘I didn’t hear the lifeboat – I didn’t hear anything at that stage. I was drowning. My hands were up and somebody grabbed them and pulled me into the lifeboat. I remember struggling to breathe, and then a crew member carrying me in their arms onto the shore. I was crying and shouting.

‘They let me out of hospital later that day after I had warmed up. A few days later I went to the lifeboat station to say thank you to the volunteers. That’s when I realised the RNLI is a charity.

‘From now, whatever I do, whether I earn more or less, I want to give something to the RNLI every month.

'I want everyone to know about the dangers of being cut off by the tide. I wouldn’t even want my worst enemy to be in that situation – I felt so helpless.’

Don't get caught out – Respect the Water and know the risks

British and Irish waters are dangerously unpredictable so it can be surprisingly easy to get cut off by the tide.

Over 200 people die accidentally in British and Irish waters each year. And around half of those who drown never even expected to get wet.

Respect the Water to reduce the risks and stay safe while enjoying the coast.

If you’re setting out on a walk:

  • Check tide times before you go.
  • Keep an eye on the water to see if the tide is coming in or going out.

Get more RNLI advice on safety at the beach and learn more about the power of the water in our interactive experiences.

Why I #RespectTheWater

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Share it with us below or on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #RespectTheWater and help keep others safe in and around the water.

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