The RNLI is urging people to fight their instincts to swim - and float instead - if they fall unexpectedly into water.
With temperatures set to soar over the May bank holiday weekend the charity is warning people of the potential dangers of open water.
Sudden immersion in cold water puts people at risk of suffering cold water shock, triggering the instinctive reaction to gasp uncontrollably and swim hard, which can lead to drowning.
Research commissioned by the RNLI shows over half of people in the north of England would follow this potentially life-threatening instinct if they fell into water, with 42% of respondents saying their immediate reaction would be to swim, while 1% said they would panic.
Others said they would do nothing (4%); remove clothing (2%); hold their breath (1%), and 5% said they would not know what to do.
Mike Tipton, Professor of Human and Applied Physiology at the University of Portsmouth, explains:
The charity are expecting good weather to draw hundreds of people to the coast this bank holiday weekend. Darren Lewis, RNLI Lifesaving Delivery Manager in the north, says:
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