‘Respect the water – A safety warning for holidaymakers visiting the Broads National Park’

1) Boats stuck under a bridge © Broads Authority

2) Boats on the River © Thurne Julian Claxton

Oulton Broad

3) Tourists at Broads riverside © Julian Claxton

4) Shooting the Bridge @SQIL & Richard Johnstone-Bryden


For free download post posters, please click on the links below

1) Drinking Safety poster A4

2) Broads safety messages poster A4

The campaign targets tourists headed to the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads on holiday, aiming to raise awareness of how to keep themselves and their family safe on the water.

It is aimed at the large numbers of visitors from North London, Essex, Colchester, Cambridge, Peterborough, Nottingham, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Leicester and Manchester, who have already booked their holiday on the Broads this season.

This summer, the Broads Authority anticipates welcoming many new boaters and paddlers. In preparation, the Authority and partners have issued CCTV videos of the kind of mishaps that can take place on boats and while undertaking paddlesports. By sharing these videos, they hope to raise awareness of how to avoid potential danger.

The Broads is a special holiday destination. The East of England region receives over 8 million visitors each year and the majority of holidays take place without issue. The campaign asks holidaymakers to be aware just how quickly things can change and understand that danger can present itself in the blink of an eye when it comes to activities on the water.

Greg Preston, Chairman of Norfolk’s Drowning Prevention Forum, said: “We very much welcome visitors to the Broads this summer but recognise that for many opting for boating holidays, this year could be their first time on a Broads staycation.

“Sadly, forum partners often get called to water rescues where inexperience can be a factor. We urge the public to follow safety advice provided by hire companies, wear life jackets when climbing on and off boats as well as when on board, not to jump off boats for a swim and be aware of the propellers.

“We wish visitors to Norfolk and Suffolk this summer a wonderful time exploring our beautiful region.”

Lucy Burchnall, Head of Ranger Services, commented:

“We know that people want to have a good time, and enjoying the river whilst relaxing with a drink is a past-time that has been enjoyed by visitors here for centuries.

“Unfortunately, for many people it does not end there as they become dangerously drunk and incapacitated near the water.

“We want to remind people to be sensible – remember that no matter what it is you are celebrating, or however great of a time you are having, it is not worth losing your or a friend’s life over.”

Pete Revell, Station Officer, Bacton Coastguard Team, HM Coastguard said:

“If you see anyone in difficulty in the water, don’t jump in after them. Look for a throw line or lifesaver, encourage those in the water to stay calm and float on their back until help arrives. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

The partnership has issued the following safety guidance for holidaymakers, whether out on a boat, canoe, kayak or paddleboard.

Don’t go overboard on alcohol!

  • Excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for a large number of water-related accidents and fatalities each year across the UK’s waterways and coast. Many of these would be avoidable if people were aware of how dangerous it is to mix alcohol and open water.
  • Don’t booze and cruise. You wouldn’t drink and drive, so don’t drink and pilot a boat. Even passengers should limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol may make you more likely to fall in, and reduces your chances of surviving if you do.
  • Drunk individuals may also forget to avoid the fast-spinning and sharp propeller of the boat, which will almost certainly cause severe injury or death if it comes into contact with them.
  • We know that people want to have a good time but are asking visitors to moor up your boat before you consume alcohol.


Canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding have recently seen a huge surge in popularity. While they are lots of fun, be prepared and understand the risks if you are taking to the water.

  • Wear an appropriate life jacket or paddleboard tether
  • Choose quieter stretches of the rivers to explore (sticking to the right-hand side of the river
  • Know what to do if you capsize/enter the water.
  • Read online information on Broads Authority paddlesports webpage, and British Canoeing.

Holiday hireboats (motor cruisers)

  • Wear a life jacket at all times – experienced boaters, first-timers, all members of the family, including children and dogs.
  • Avoid the back of the vessel where the propeller is located
  • Watch your footing when stepping off on the vessel whilst mooring up (when most people fall into the water).
  • Float to Live – If you fall in, try to remain calm and focus on floating on your back, whilst your body adjusts to the cold temperature of the water. Then swim or move to the edge of the river, or wait to be thrown a life ring or throw line.

Comprehensive instructions and safety information is provided to hirers at handover, but the Authority and partners have produced some short animated videos to help visitors brush up on your knowledge.

Furthermore, each year many visitors are tempted to enter the water and go wild-swimming. The Authority strongly urges against this unless part of an organised event, as inexperienced swimmers may get into difficulties with other river traffic, face strong tidal currents and become entangled in water plants or deep mud. Swimmers should always make themselves visible by wearing a brightly-coloured cap or float, and should avoid busy stretches of water. See information on swimming on the Broads Authority website.

This summer there will be an increased Broads Authority Ranger presence patrolling on the water and we will be working closely with our partners at BroadsBeat, the RNLI and HM Coastguard to keep people safe. For advice during your visit you can call Broads Control on 01603 756056, contact our team at the Yacht Stations (contact information is available on our website) and always remember to call 999 in case of emergency.

Further information:

  1. Video of boating and paddling mishaps on the Broads, and
  2. Broads Authority Ranger, Howard Constantine, on how to have a safe holiday, via WeTransfer

Safety information: https://www.broads-authority.gov.uk/boating/navigating-the-broads/safety

Paddlesports: https://www.broads-authority.gov.uk/boating/navigating-the-broads/canoeing,-kayaking-and-paddleboarding

Wild swimming: https://www.broads-authority.gov.uk/boating/navigating-the-broads/outdoor-swimming

Boating essentials videos: https://www.broads-authority.gov.uk/boating/navigating-the-broads/boating-essentials/

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