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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.

Around 140 people lose their lives at the UK and Irish coasts each year, and over half never even planned to enter the water. It's important you know what to do in an emergency so you can help without putting yourself in danger.

There are two simple skills you should know that could save a life:

Float to Live

  1. Tilt your head back, ears submerged.
  2. Relax and try to breathe normally.
  3. Move your hands to help you stay afloat.
  4. It's OK if your legs sink, we all float differently.
  5. Spread your arms and legs to improve stability.

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 you off your feet.

Floating can increase your chances of survival from cold water shock and rip currents. Find out more about Float to Live and how it can save your life.

How you can help

Read our real-life stories and share our safety messages with family and friends.

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

About Respect the Water

Respect the Water is a joint campaign, run by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), that aims to reduce the number of water-related deaths and accidents. The campaign is at the heart of our prevention work, which promotes safety advice to all who visit the coast. We want you to enjoy the water, but we also want you to recognise its dangers and never underestimate its power.

The Respect the Water campaign aims to highlight the potential dangers of water, and encourage people to reconsider their actions and adopt safer behaviour.

Current drowning figures show a clear gender divide, with men accounting for the vast majority of those who die. So the campaign is primarily aimed at men, but the safety advice is just as relevant for anyone who finds themselves in difficulty in open water, both at the coast or inland.