With an increase in the number of people pulling on their trainers or walking boots for their unlimited daily exercise in England by themselves or with one other person, the RNLI are urging people to heed the advice if anyone who finds themselves unexpectedly in cold water to ‘float to live’. Getting out into the fresh air for a walk or run is an excellent way of grabbing some exercise and or valuable ‘headspace’ time away from work or the stresses and strains of modern everyday life. But, knowing what to do should you get into difficulty in water is essential.
A recent incident near Blackburn involving a runner who accidentally fell into a canal who helped to save her own life by using the ‘Float to Live’ safety drill enforces the RNLI’s water safety campaign ‘Respect the Water’ very effectively. Fortunately, the Aggie the runner who knew the route well escaped unhurt and without the need for hospitalisation. You can view the interview below which Aggie gave to the RNLI below explaining how she remembered the ‘Float to Live’ principle after seeing it advertised on television.
Chris Cousens, one of the RNLI’s Water Safety Lead’s, said “annual coastal fatality figures reveal over half (55%) of those who died at the coast in 2018 ended up in the water unexpectedly – a figure that has remained consistent in recent years. Chris says:
‘Aggie’s story really does prove the charity’s Float to Live advice is just as relevant inland as it is on the coast. Coastal fatality figures sadly show that many of those who lose their lives did not plan on entering the water.
Slips, trips and falls can catch people unaware while out running or walking. Knowing what to do if you fall into cold water, whether inland or at the coast, can be the difference between life and death.
‘The instinctive human reaction when you fall into cold water can cause panic and gasping for breath, increasing the chances of breathing in water. Although it’s counter intuitive, the best immediate course of action is to fight your instinct and float on your back. More tragic water-related deaths can be avoided by knowing the risks and remembering the Float technique, just as Aggie did.
Coastal and Inland Water ways
Float to Live is something that you can use equally at the coast, as you can in a river, canal, loch, quarry or lake. The short video above will demonstrate how to conduct ‘Float to Live’.
Water Safety Reminders
Here is a reminder if you are setting out for a lovely walk or run or any other outdoor activity which is close to water:
- Check the weather and tides
- Carry a ‘calling for help’ device such as a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case
- Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back
- Wear the right clothing/equipment for the activity
- Read and take heed of any warning signage at the entrance to beaches
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times
- Be aware of slips and trips, keeping to recognised coastal paths
- Don’t enter the water should you get cut off by the tide, shout for help
- If you do unexpectedly find yourself in the water float on your back until you get your breath
- If you see an animal or person in difficulty in the water dial ‘999’ at the coast or on the River Thames and ask for the Coastguard or if inland the Fire Service giving an accurate location
- Abide by the relevant COVID-19 safety restrictions for that particular area
Other useful links
What do I do if I saw someone in difficulty in the water?
What is cold water shock?
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RNLI Respect the Water
Royal National Lifeboat Institution
RNLI Water Safety Lead – Chris Cousens
Agnieszka ‘Aggie’ Kwiecien for allowing her story to be published