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Safety on or near water

We chair Norfolk's Water Safety Forum, which is made up of partners all committed to educating the public and improving safety on our waterways and in coastal areas.

The Forum's aims are to prevent incidents, reduce risk and educate the public around safety in and around Norfolk's open water.

Here in Norfolk we have 91 miles of coastline and more than 200+ miles of inland waterways, meaning there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the water safely.

If you are inland and have a water emergency - call 999. If you are at the coast, call 999 and ask for HM Coastguard.

The RNLI offers good advice on what to do if you get into difficulty in the water, including "Floating to Live" if you get into trouble. Find out more from their Respect the Water campaign.

You can also get safety advice around water, aimed at children, at our Crucial Crew resources. This includes advice from the Royal Lifesaving Society, RNLI and HM Coastguard.


There has been an increase in popularity of stand up paddleboarding. When undertaken safely and at an appropriate location, this can be a relaxing and enjoyable leisure activity.

If you're going paddleboarding always:

  • Go with a friend
  • Take a phone in a waterproof pouch
  • Check weather and tidal information - avoid windy days
  • Wear an appropriate leash and personal flotation device such as a lifejacket
  • In an emergency call 999/112 for the coastguard (coastal) or fire service (inland)

Watch a YouTube video about Paddlesport safety on inland waterways created by our colleagues at the Broads Authority.

You can also see lots of advice about safe canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding on the Broads Authority website.

See advice from the RNLI on coastal paddleboarding.


These allow you to rescue someone in difficulty in open water, without putting your own life at risk. We offer training in how to use throwlines to waterside businesses across Norfolk, so that staff can grab one and help if they see a member of the public in trouble.

If you run a waterside business, you can apply for these sessions using our contact form.

Our key swimming and water safety advice is:

  • Ensure that you and your family can swim, are water confident, and have water safety skills
  • Make smart choices - swim at lifeguarded beaches and pools, use appropriate safety equipment and do not drink alcohol before going in the water
  • Be aware of and know how to avoid water safety hazards such as rips, cold-water and moving water
  • Know what to do in an emergency

Be aware of the dangers of swimming in open waters especially in waters without lifeguards.  Water temperatures can drop sharply just below the surface and you don't know what may be underneath.

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