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Man struggling to stay afloat in the water

Safety

Learn how you can keep you and your loved ones safe at the coast and in the water with advice from the RNLI’s water safety experts.
RNLI/Nigel Millard

Heading to the coast or out on the water is a great way to have fun and stay active. But, if you're not careful, it's a lot easier to get into trouble in the water than you might think. Conditions can change quickly and if you're not prepared, you can easily get caught out.

We've collected all our advice here, so you can find the information you need. Whether you're going to the beach, exploring the coast, or venturing out onto the water, we have the sea safety advice to help you stay safe.

A man wearing a loose shirt, tshirt, trousers and shoes floating on his back, in the sea, with arms and legs

Float to Live

If you get in trouble in the water – float to live. Lean back, extend your arms and legs and control your breathing. Then call for help. Share this skill with friends and family – it could save their life.
Kitesurfer in Poole Harbour

Photo: RNLI / Nathan Williams

Kitesurfer in Poole Harbour

Choose your activity

Thinking of going kayaking? Angling? Surfing? Or even just heading to the coast for a walk? Learn how to have fun and stay safe in the water and at the beach. Our sea safety experts have created activity guides covering a wide range of watersports and hobbies, so you can prepare yourself properly for the challenges of your chosen activity.

The sea surface from under the water

Photo: RNLI / Nathan Williams

Know the risks

The sea can be a great place to have fun and relax, but it can also be a dangerous place. Being aware of the potential dangers can prevent you from getting into danger before it happens. Read our water safety guides and know how to spot hazards at the coast and in the water so you don’t get caught out.

138 people die by accident at our coasts per year

10,734 people aided by lifeboat crews in 2023

15+ Males over the age of 15  (INCLUDING OVER 60) are most at risk

19,979 PEOPLE AIDED BY LIFEGUARDS IN 2023

Float to live - cold water shock

Cold water shock

If you fall unexpectedly in the water you could suffer from cold water shock. Would you know what to do?
A lifeguard talking to a family on the beach

Photo: Nigel Millard

A lifeguard talking to a family on the beach

Beach safety

The UK and Ireland are home to some beautiful beaches, ideal for a day out. But they can also be dangerous if you don’t know what to do in an emergency, especially if there are no RNLI lifeguards around. Read our beach safety tips and find out how to keep you and your loved ones safe at the seaside.

How to stay safe at the coast 

Kitesurfer in Poole Harbour
Choose your activity
Our safety advice covers a broad range of water activities to help keep you safe at the coast.
Get advice
The sea surface from under the water
Know the risks
It's easier than you think to get into trouble at the coast. Get to grips with the common risk factors and find out how to minimise them. 
The risk factors
A lifeguard talking to a family on the beach
Beach safety
The coast is a wonderful place to be, but the sea can be dangerous and unpredictable. If you’re heading to the coast, take a look at our advice and tips to help you have fun and stay safe.
Stay safe
A young man is fully clothed in the open water. His face is above the water, looking up to the sky, and his arms and legs are stretched out, gently moving to help him stay afloat.
Float to Live
Would you know what to do if you got into difficulty in the water? Float by following these five simple steps – it could save your life.
Learn to float
Safety advice session on motorboat
What we can do for you
You can count on the RNLI in an emergency. But we can help you avoid getting into trouble in the first place too. Take advantage of our free safety advice.
find out more
A variety of lifejackets and buoyancy aids piled up on a beach
Lifejackets
Choosing the right lifejacket or buoyancy aid for your activity can be difficult. With many different options to choose from and technical language that can be confusing, you might end up using something unsuitable, or worse, not using one at all.
Find out more
Beacons or devices? How to call for help
How to call for help at sea
Do you know who to call in an emergency? Do you have the right equipment? Whether you’re at the coast, on the water, or further out to sea, we have everything you need to know so you can call for help in an emergency.
Find out more
A man is floating in water with the word ‘float’ written behind him.
Respect the Water
If you got into trouble in the water, would you know what to do? What about if it was someone you care about in danger? Find out how to keep you and your loved ones safe with the RNLI.
Find out more
Children taking part in Swim Safe with the RNLI and Amateur Swimming Association (ASA)
Swim Safe
Find out about free summer Swim Safe sessions for children aged 7-14 years with the RNLI and ASA.
Learn more
A face-to-face team member sharing safety advice and fundraising in Cornwall.
Multi-lingual resources
Language shouldn’t be a barrier to getting our safety messages out to the diverse communities across the UK and Ireland. Here are some translated safety resources, to reach as many people as we can in our mission to save lives at sea.
View Translated Resources
Black Swimming Association members learning throw bag training at the RNLI College in Poole
Help protect your community
Every year, around 400* people drown in the seas and inland waters of the UK, and these tragic accidents happen all year round. Take part in our free throw bag training to make sure you and your staff know how to keep people safe by the water.
Find out more