WATCH: RNLI launches Respect the Water campaign

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NEW RESEARCH commissioned by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution has revealed that more than half of people in the south east would follow a life-threatening instinct if they fell into water.

In a campaign called Respect the Water, the RNLI is calling on the public to fight their instincts and remember floating could save people from drowning.

A scene from the RNLI's Respect the Water film

A scene from the RNLI's Respect the Water film

Sudden immersion in cold water puts people at risk of suffering cold water shock, which triggers the instinctive reaction to gasp uncontrollably and swim hard, which can quickly lead to drowning.

Mike Tipton, professor of human and applied physiology at the University of Portsmouth, explained: ‘Thrashing and swimming hard is a killer. It increases chances of water entering your lungs, strain on your heart, cools the skin further and helps air escape from clothing, which then reduces buoyancy.’