RNLI’s ‘Design out Drowning’ sand signage nominated for national design award

Lifeguards News Release

The iconic sand signage, designed by David Revell of south west design consultancy, Imagemakers, collaborated with the RNLI’s Design Out Drowning programme through creative and innovative sand art. The signage aims to showcase vital beach safety advice to beach users using text in the sand.


Tidal cut off sand signage

The design awards are due to take place at the end of the month digitally on their website, offering finalists an enhanced platform to showcase their success. The sand signage, originally demonstrated at Perranpoth beach, has been nominated under the ‘Spaces’ category for Wayfinding and Environmental Graphics. Results will be announced online and through their social media channels at the end of June.

Beach users being cut off by the tide is a common incident that occurs along the entire UK coastline and can often accelerate to a very dangerous situation. This is usually due to the misconception of varying tide times around the coast, the size of tidal surges, neap and spring tides, and just how quickly the tide can flood the beach. The high impact sand signage is also being used to highlight locations of dangerous rip currents and to encourage people to swim between the red and yellow flags, patrolled by our RNLI lifeguards.

David, from Imagemakers said, ‘The concept is simple: to create signs in the sand that could direct beach users to either the safest part of the sea, or inform them of potential risks and how to avoid them.

‘As we developed the idea, we were considering how to make safety messaging simple, less hassle, more intuitive, timely and a little unusual in order to attract attention. We looked at existing precedents for this type of message delivery, finding examples in art, marketing and sports.’

The sand signage was trialled last summer at Bedruthan Steps near Newquay, Watergate Bay, Perran Sands and Perranporth. The project’s success in changing beach users’ behaviour was monitored and assessed showcasing its potential to be rolled out to other locations in the future. RNLI Lifeguard Supervisors have been practising the sand art during training and inductions at the start of the year and will aim to utilise this tool as we continue to roll out our lifeguarding service this summer.

Steve Instance, RNLI Community Safety Manager for the south west, said: ‘Last year, 25 people lost their lives on the coast in the south west. Too many people are getting cut off by tides or being caught out in rip currents, so we’re exploring new ways of raising awareness of these dangers.

‘The sand signage concept carries great impact and we hope will help alert people to the risks that are present at that beach. We’re absolutely committed to reducing the number of people who drown around the coast and this is a new concept that could help achieve that.

‘While we are still very much in the early stages of trialling the sand signage, the initial tests have been well received and certainly captured people’s attention.

‘We’ll continue testing throughout the summer and perfecting its installation while exploring how it could be rolled out to other locations.’

Imagemakers is an award winning design agency borne out of a life-long passion to bring history and nature to life. David said, ‘We love what we do and take a thoughtful, creative and practical approach to each project we work on.’

Notes to editors

· Attached an image of the sand art at Perranporth beach, credit Imagemakers

· The National Design Awards will take place on a digital platform on Monday 29 June https://www.designweek.co.uk/issues/1-7-june-2020/design-week-awards-2020-the-shortlist-in-full/

· The charity is hoping to have lifeguards on around 170 beaches by early July – 70 per cent of the beaches it would patrol in a normal summer

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Becky Bright, RNLI Media Engagement Placement for the South West: Becky_Bright@rnli.org.uk. or Amy Caldwell, Regional Media Manager on 07920818807 or Amy_Caldwell@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or pressoffice@rnli.org.uk.


RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor writing beach safety advice


Sand signage beach safety message


Swim between the flags sand signage

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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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