Donate now

RNLI Scotland launch safety campaign as 267,000 visited beaches last summer

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard have launched a water safety campaign as figures reveal over 267,000 people visited RNLI lifeguarded beaches last summer.

RNLI lifeguard keeps a watchful eye on Elie Beach.


RNLI lifeguard keeps a watchful eye on Elie Beach.

With a recent survey revealing 35 million people are planning to visit UK coastal regions this summer, the charity’s lifesavers are expecting a busy summer ahead.

Last year, the RNLI in Scotland saw 267,191 visitors on their eight lifeguarded beaches and expect that number to increase this summer. What’s more, the charity’s lifesavers saw 314 incidents and aided nearly 400 people on the eight beaches they patrol.

Ahead of the summer holidays, the RNLI and HM Coastguard are launching a water safety campaign, urging everyone to remember that if you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live. To do this: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 for the Coastguard.

Last summer, Katie Walker, one of the RNLI Lifeguards in Scotland, jumped into action when she caught sight of a young child swimming outside the safe swim area, marked by red and yellow flags, at Coldingham Bay, Scottish Borders.

The young girl had been enjoying a swim with her family and friends when she became caught in a strong rip current that began pulling her away from the beach. Recognising the immediate danger, and with the girl beginning to panic, Katie quickly gathered her rescue board and broke through the surf to reach her some 50 metres from the beach.

A nearby swimmer, who had also spotted the escalating situation, shouted over instructing the child to remain calm and float on her back. This reassured her enough that she was able to calm down and await the lifeguard, Katie, who safely brought her back to shore on the rescue board.

RNLI lifeguard, Katie said: ‘We are really grateful that a nearby swimmer was able to reassure the young girl by calling out the right instructions. The RNLI’s ‘Float to Live’ message is designed to help someone stay calm and use their natural buoyancy until either help arrives, or they are able to swim to safety themselves.’

In 2021, RNLI lifeboats in Scotland saw a 10% increase in launches compared to 2020, with the crew witnessing an increase in paddleboarding incidents, as well as swimmer casualties.

Laura Erskine, RNLI Water Safety Education Manager for Scotland, says: ‘As the warmer weather appears and the school holidays begin, we expect to see Scotland’s beaches getting busier. It is important to remember how to keep you and your family safe this summer by following the simple advice of Float to Live.

‘It’s important to remember that even though the weather is warmer, the water can still be significantly cold, so it is vitally important to take caution and remember to Float to Live if you get into trouble.

‘RNLI lifeguarded beaches saw over 261,000 visitors in 2021, and our lifeguards aided nearly 400 people. It’s important that those visiting Scotland’s beaches this summer to remember to Float to Live, just following this simple piece of advice can be lifesaving.’

If you spot someone in difficulty in the water, you should not enter the water yourself. Dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard and try to reassure the casualty by calling out to them and informing them to stay calm and float on their back.

For further information on the water safety campaign visit:

A full list of RNLI lifeguarded beaches can be found here.


Notes to editors

Laura Erskine and RNLI Lifeguards are available for interview at our media launch this Thursday (23 June) at Elie Beach, Fife.

If you are unable to attend but would like us to record the Float demonstration and any water safety advice, please let us know and we can send content over to you after the event.

RNLI lifeguards will be on the following beaches across Scotland this summer: Silver Sands, Coldingham, St Andrews East Sands, St Andrews West Sands, Elie Harbour, Burntisland, Leven and Broughty Ferry.

More information on the rescue by RNLI lifeguard, Katie Walker, can be found here

In a survey commissioned by the RNLI, 86% of the UK adult population (aged 16-64) expect to visit the UK coast or use the beach or sea between now and the end of September, this is up from 75% this time last year. 42% are expected to go three times or more.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Natasha Bennett, RNLI Regional Media Officer (Scotland), on 07826900639 or [email protected] or Martin Macnamara, RNLI Regional Media Manager (Scotland) on 07920365929 or [email protected].

Claire Thomson, Media Engagement Placement (Scotland), on 07929673286 or [email protected]. Alternatively, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or [email protected].

Sand art at West Sands Beach, St Andrews

Rob Ogle

The RNLI saw 267,000 people visiting lifeguarded beaches - an increase of over 100,000 from 2021.
Lifeguard, Katie Walker, will keep Scottish beachgoers safe this summer.


Lifeguard, Katie Walker, will keep Scottish beachgoers safe this summer.
If you fall into the water unexpectedly, float to live.


If you fall into the water unexpectedly, float to live.

Key facts about the RNLI

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.