1 - Float to Live

If you find yourself struggling in the water, or if you fall in unexpectedly, you should Float to Live. Just lean back and use your arms and legs to help you float. Wait until you can control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety.

If you have children, it’s important to teach them to float too. You could practice when you go to the swimming pool. Learn more about teaching your child to float in this video.

You can also sign your child up for a free Swim Safe session. It’ll teach them important skills to help them stay safe at the beach and in the sea.

A female lifeguard is smiling and talking to a young boy on the beach.

2 - Choose a lifeguarded beach

In 2021, RNLI lifeguards aided over 40,000 people on the beach. Choosing to visit a lifeguarded beach gives you and your family the protection of highly trained lifeguards. They can see the dangers develop, prevent accidents before they happen and respond instantly if anyone gets into difficulty. 

RNLI lifeguards patrol 245 lifeguarded beaches across the UK and Channel Islands. Find a lifeguarded beach near you or your holiday destination.

3 - Know the risks and what to do

When you’re heading to the beach, it’s important that you know the risks and what you can do to minimise them. From rip currents to tides, cold water shock to waves, being aware of the dangers will help you to stay safe.

One of the risks at the beach is rip currents. They are strong currents that can quickly drag you out to sea. Find out how to spot them in this video.

A phone with 999 being dialled, a beach in the background.

4 - Call 999 or 112 in an emergency

When you go to the beach, always carry a means of calling for help. If you’re going in the water, you can carry your mobile phone in a waterproof pouch. That way, if you find yourself or spot someone else in an emergency situation, you can get help. 

In a coastal emergency, call 999 if you're in the UK or 112 if you're in Ireland and ask for the coastguard.

A male lifeguard is stood on the beach facing the sea with a red and yellow flag next to him.

5 - Know your flags

If you visit a lifeguarded beach, there will be flags on the beach to show you where it’s safe to swim. If you’re planning to swim or bodyboard, stay between the red and yellow flags. For surfboards, stand-up paddleboards or other non-powered craft, go between the black and white chequered flag. You should not swim there.

If a red flag is flying, the water is dangerous. Do not enter the water under any circumstances.