Around 175 people accidentally die at the British and Irish coasts each year. Around half of them never intend to go into the water in the first place.

Learn to float, pass on our advice and you could save a life.



Extend your arms, legs and life expectancy.

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

The average temperature of British and Irish waters is 12-15°C – cold enough to cause cold water shock. Cold water shock makes you gasp uncontrollably and breathe in water, which can quickly lead to drowning.

Fight your instinct to swim, pause, and float on your back until you are able to catch your breath. Doing so may save your life.

The science behind floating

While you float, you can regain control of your breathing and your heart rate can begin to steady. 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.

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.

Prepare with practice

Build your confidence by practicing our five steps to float in a swimming pool. You won’t need to thrash around or call for help in this planned scenario, but getting used to floating for up to 90 seconds (the duration it takes for cold water shock to pass) could be your lifesaver in open water:

  • Lean back, extend your arms and legs

  • If you need to, gently move them around to help you float

  • Float until you can control your breathing