The UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has teamed with partners at Ford to create a unique flip-flop using recycled car tyres which will print the charity’s vital ‘Float to Live’ message in the sand, as new data shows a decline in awareness of this life-saving action.

In a survey, commissioned by the RNLI, only 59% of those questioned– aged 16-64 – would try to float if they fell into open water and only 55% are confident that they would be able to float if they did fall into open water. The findings show awareness to float as the action to take should you fall into open water has significantly declined since last year.

Guy Addington, RNLI Water Safety Lead, said: “We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.

“Think about planning your trip to a beach where lifeguards are patrolling to keep you, your family and friends safe, and also ensure you are aware of the RNLI’s safety advice before getting into the sea, wherever you are holidaying. Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but they can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment,

“We’ve seen high numbers of people at UK beaches this summer so it’s imperative that we continue to raise awareness of important water safety advice. We’re delighted that Ford are supporting by helping to spread these messages that can help save lives.”

Members of the public are being encouraged to take personal responsibility for their own and family’s safety by remembering the Float to Live technique if you’re in trouble in the water:

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  • Fight your instinct to thrash around
  • 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
  • Only then, call for help or swim to safety

The goal of the flip flops initiative is to explore ways to get messages out to audiences – whether that’s through spotting a print in the sand, seeing a picture or hearing through a friend – to and learn about how best to respond when found in troubling situations at sea.

With 1.5 billion tyres being disregarded each year globally, the upcycled flip flops are created using waste tyres from landfills that are carefully moulded using Sole Engineered Tyre Technology to create the unique safety message design.

It is the second time the charity, which saves lives at sea, and the car company have teamed up to educate on water safety tips and follows on from an initiative trialled last year where they fitted Ford Ranger vehicles with specially designed tyres to create eye-catching ‘tide track’ messages in sand which were shared across social media

Ford is the official vehicle supplier to the RNLI, supporting their work with vehicles to help lifeguards patrol beaches up and down the UK.