RNLI urged public to learn to 'Float to Live' if going near water this summer

​The ‘Float to Live’ technique has been found to work in coastal and inland waters. (Image: RNLI/Jaye Mackay)​The ‘Float to Live’ technique has been found to work in coastal and inland waters. (Image: RNLI/Jaye Mackay)
​The ‘Float to Live’ technique has been found to work in coastal and inland waters. (Image: RNLI/Jaye Mackay)
As the school summer holidays get well under way, the RNLI is promoting its Float to Live campaign as coastal activities start to increase.

Figures reveal that 83% of the UK adult population expect to visit the coast this summer, with 40% expecting to go three times or more.

There were 226 deaths in the UK from accidental drownings in 2022, across inland and coastal locations. Of the people who died, 40 per cent had no intention of entering the water, such as those walking, with causes including slips, trips and falls, being cut off by the tide or swept in by waves.

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Although beach leisure time has increased in the UK by nearly a third (28%) over the past three years, 10% of people said the potential dangers associated with the water are something they don't think about often and 36% of people do not know what to do if they get into trouble in the water.

The RNLI is reminding everyone to remember Float to Live if they find themselves in trouble in water: tilt your head back with ears submerged and try to relax and control your breathing. Use your hands to help you stay afloat and then, once you are through the initial shock, call for help to or swim to safety if you can. 

Michael Avril, water safety lead, said: “We are expecting the summer holidays to be incredibly busy at the coast in Scotland. We want everyone to enjoy being around the water but we also want to make sure people stay safe and know what to do in an emergency.

“It’s important that anyone visiting the coast understands the risks of the environment. We want to make sure people know what to do in an emergency at the coast, such as dialling 999 and asking for the Coastguard. If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live.”

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Research by the RNLI and University of Portsmouth’s Extreme Environments Laboratory (EEL) shows that floating is different for everyone, people naturally float with little movement, others require gentle use of their hands and legs to stay afloat. The technique has been tested in different open water environments, showing that it is helpful both at the coast and in inland waters.