Respect the Water

Respect the Water is our national drowning prevention campaign. It highlights the risks, helps you avoid them and gives advice to keep you and those around you safe.

Around 190 people die each year at the UK and Irish coasts. We want to change this. 

Respect the Water is at the heart of our prevention work, which is aimed at promoting safety advice to all who visit the coast, from walkers to commercial fishermen.

We want you to enjoy the water, but we also want you to recognise its dangers and never underestimate its power.

It’s our goal to halve the number of accidental coastal deaths by 2024. The campaign aims to show those most at risk the potential dangers of water, to encourage them to reconsider their actions and adopt safer behaviour.

Current drowning figures show a clear gender divide, with men accounting for over two-thirds of those who die. So the campaign is primarily aimed at men, particularly those aged between 16 and 39 years, who are more likely to take risks. Although the safety advice is just as relevant for anyone visiting the coast.

Treat water with respect. Not everyone can be saved.

This year’s campaign focusses on preparing people for the power of the water and what to do if you unexpectedly fall in.

The main risks that catch people out are:

Unexpectedly entering the water

Around half the people who drown slip, trip or fall into the water. They never intend to get wet.

Cold water

Cold water shock is triggered in water temperatures lower than 15⁰C – the average temperature of UK and Irish waters is 12⁰C. So even in the Summer, the water temperature is cold enough to cause cold water shock, which can steal the air from your lungs and leave you helpless in seconds.

Rip currents and waves

Rip currents can travel up to the same speed as an Olympic swimmer (4.5mph) and can pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea. And unexpected waves can quickly knock people off their feet.

How you can help

Learn about the risks

Know how you can avoid getting into trouble.

Take the Respect the Water challenge

Know what to do if you unexpectedly fall into the water.

Share the campaign

Watch our videos, read real-life stories and help others stay safe by spreading our safety messages. #RespectTheWater

Together we can reduce coastal drowning and save more lives at sea.