Float to Live

Float to Live

This image was sourced from: RNLI. https://rnli.org/safety/float

If you found yourself struggling in the water unexpectedly, your instinct would tell you to swim hard. But cold water shock could make you gasp uncontrollably. Then you could breathe in water and drown. Instead, you should Float to Live. 

The best way to float is to tilt your head back with your ears submerged. Try to relax and breathe normally. You can gently move your hands to help you stay afloat if you need to. Spread your arms and legs out to improve stability – and it's OK if your legs sink, we all float differently. Once your breathing is under control, call for help or swim to safety.

5 steps to know how to float

However you end up in the water, if you end up in difficulty, Float to Live.

  1. Tilt your head back (with 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)

Remember it. Share it.

Make sure your loved ones know what do if they get into difficulty too. Help them learn how to float.


What is cold water shock?

When in cold water (anything below 15°C), your body can go into cold water shock. If this happens, you lose control of your breathing and movement. Cold water shock also causes your heart rate and blood pressure to quickly increase, which can lead to cardiac arrest.

The average sea temperature around the UK and Ireland is just 12°C. Inland waters like lakes, rivers, lochs and reservoirs can be colder - even in the summer.

Remember, if you find yourself in difficulty in the water, Float to Live.

Rip currents

Rip currents are powerful currents that run out to sea. They can quickly drag you away from the shore and into deep water.

They can be difficult to spot, and it’s easy to get caught out by them. The best way to avoid rip currents is to choose a lifeguarded beach and always swim between the red and yellow flags. You can always ask RNLI lifeguards for advice.