The research behind the Respect the Water campaign’s ‘float’ message

As many of you will know, the RNLI developed its Float to Live message for the Respect the Water campaign last year. Since then, seven people have come forward and claimed the Respect the Water float technique helped save their life.

The Respect the Water Team has received many positive comments and a number of anecdotal accounts from people around the UK and Ireland who had benefited from this advice. But we were also asked about the ability of people of different body types to float in different situations (for example water types, with or without clothing, clothing types), how to float and the techniques to use.

With this in mind, we decided to add to the float research already undertaken for the campaign. Earlier this year, we commissioned the University of Portsmouth to carry out a short research project aimed at providing further evidence for the campaign that would help address these queries.

This research included a literature review, practical trials undertaken in the Sea Survival Pool at the RNLI College and Portsmouth lab, as well as a survey. You can take a look at live footage from the practical trials that aimed to answer the questions, aims and objectives of the research on this research webpage.

In the video above (please click here if it doesn’t play), you can see some of the live footage from the practical trials that aimed to answer the questions, aims and objectives of the research.

These findings have been vital for helping the Respect the Water Team to develop more specific and targeted advice for this year’s campaign. We hope you find them useful when you’re out and about talking to members of the public or when speaking with your friends and family about respecting the water.

Here’s a quick reminder of the key Respect the Water campaign messages:

Float to Live:

If you're in trouble in cold water:

Fight your instinct to thrash around

Lean back, extend your arms and legs

If you need to, gently move your arms and legs to help you float

Float until you can control your breathing

Only then call for help or swim to safety

If you see somebody in danger of drowning at the coast:

Call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard straight away