Floating facts

What you're wearing could help keep you alive

Clothing can help you float

In most cases, clothing and footwear improves buoyancy during the first moments in the water - because it traps air between the layers when you fall in. Moving less helps the air stay trapped, helping you to float. When put to the test*, most people found floating easier than they anticipated, particularly in thicker winter clothes.

* Based on research conducted by the University of Portsmouth for the RNLI involving 85 participants.

"Cold water kills"

Our leading expert Professor Mike Tipton explains the reality of cold water shock

The science behind floating

Air in the body, such as the gut and lungs, and body fat are lighter than water – that’s why we can float. The more air in our lungs and the more relaxed our body is in the water, the better we can float. Floating lets us regain control of our breathing which steadies our heart rate. So, if you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, relax and float for up to 90 seconds – the duration it takes for cold water shock to disappear.

"How I survived a rip current"

Meet the survivors who say the Respect the Water float technique helped save their lives

Survivor stories

IF YOU SEE SOMEONE IN TROUBLE AT THE COAST, CALL 999 OR 112 AND ASK FOR THE COASTGUARD