A NEW drowning awareness and water safety campaign has been launched by the RNLI.
England rugby star James Haskell helped launched the charity’s Respect the Water campaign and urged visitors to the coast to stay safe.
The campaign is running across Sussex, Kent and Hampshire to highlight the risks around the coast, the aim of reducing fatalities and other incidents.
Key safety tips are being offered as part of the campaign, which is particularly focused on men aged 25 to 65, because they are statistically the most likely to be at risk.
James was on Brighton beach earlier this month to take the Respect the Water Punchbag Challenge.
The idea was to show how quickly people tire against 250kg (quarter of a tonne) of water.
The challenge reinforces the message water never tires, but people do – even the strongest and most competent swimmers.
James said: “As a rugby player, I train to be as strong as I can be. But I know from experience, that even I’m no match for the strength of the water.
“This campaign isn’t about telling people not to go into the water – in fact, quite the opposite. The sea is a great place to have fun and relax in the summer.
“This is about being smart and safe when you are there. The water is the opponent that never tires, so make sure you’re never put to the test.”
The charity also had a cubic metre of water – weighing one tonne – on display, to help people realise the weight of a relatively small volume of water.
Ross Macleod, RNLI coastal safety manager, said: “The British seaside is so popular – especially in the good weather we’ve been enjoying recently – but, it’s crucial to stay safe and remember key safety advice so you can enjoy it properly.
“That’s why we have launched the Respect the Water campaign – to raise awareness of drowning and water safety, ultimately reducing the number of people who lose their lives at the coast.”