With over 45 miles of beautiful coastline in East Sussex, it’s essential both locals and visitors know the importance of beach and water safety. Drowning has been the cause of over 2.5 million preventable deaths (worldwide) in the last decade and many of us don’t know the basics on how to stay safe in the water. From knowing the beach flags to knowing who to call in an emergency, having beach and water safety awareness could one day save a life.

This year the RNLI have launched their Respect The Water campaign, providing simple beach safety awareness messages and life saving information such as:

Choose a lifeguarded beach

Where possible, always choose a lifeguarded beach and ensure you swim between the red and yellow flags. Not only can lifeguards see dangers developing (such as riptides or sandbars) and prevent accidents, they are also there to help, making them essential to a safe day at the beach. Find your nearest lifeguarded beach.

Know the flags at the beach

How well do you know the flags on the beach and what they mean? Knowing this simple bit of information could save your life or someone else’s. Read up on the different flag meanings and ensure you always follow their advice to help keep you, and those around you, safe. Learn more about beach safety and the meaning of the different flags.

Leave the inflatables at home

Inflatables are one of the biggest risks to beach-goers. Every summer, there are countless stories of children and adults alike who have found themselves suddenly out of their depth when their inflatable drifted out to sea. The water conditions can change so quickly, often people don’t notice until it’s too late.

Call 999 and ask for the coastguard

In an emergency at the beach, coast or sea, call 999 and ask for the coastguard. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impediment you can also send an emergency SMS. Never attempt a rescue yourself as you could also end up in danger.

Float to live

While your instinct may be to thrash your arms and legs in a bid to stay above water, it can actually have the opposite effect. If you find yourself out of your depth and struggling in the water, floating can save your life. Lean back, extend your arms and legs and move them gently to help stay afloat. This will help keep your head above the water, give you time to control your breathing and then call for help or swim to safety. Remember: float to live.

Educate kids on water safety

Did you know that drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children and young people aged 1-24 years in every region of the world? It’s important that children understand the dangers of the beach and know how to keep themselves safe around water. The RNLI has made two videos specifically for children:

Want to do more for your community? If you own or work in a beach side business, consider becoming a local RNLI Ambassador. You’ll help be the eyes and ears and promote beach and water safety messages in your local community and across East Sussex. Find out more about you becoming an RNLI Ambassador.