Float to live

Fight your instincts, not the water

Everyone who falls unexpectedly into cold water wants to follow the same instinct, to swim hard. But if you float until the cold water shock passes, you will have a better chance of survival.

  1. Step 1 - Fight your instinct to thrash around
  2. Step 2 - Lean back, extend your arms and legs
  3. Step 3 - If you need to, gently move them around to help you float
  4. Step 4 - Float until you can control your breathing
  5. Step 5 - Only then, call for help or swim to safety

What to do next

Swim to safety, call for help, or continue to float until help arrives

How does floating work?

Respect the Water is the RNLI’s drowning prevention campaign, highlighting the risks of cold water shock. When you fall into water below 15°C, you instinctively gasp for air, increasing your chance of inhaling water. Instead, relax and float for around 90 seconds to minimise this risk.

5 steps to float

1. If you fall into water, fight your instinct to swim until cold water shock passes

2. Lean back, extend your arms and legs

3. If you need to, gently move them around to help you float

4. Float until you can control your breathing

5. Only then, call for help or swim to safety

We can only spread the word, and save more lives, with you beside us.

Make a donation

If you see someone in trouble at the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard

Clothing can help you float

floating facts

Why do we float?

The science behind floating