Images: courtesy of Imagemakers and RNLI

Signs in Sand Saves Lives (and Wins a Design Award)

Good design can make a difference. And when done to inform beachgoers of how to avoid tidal risks, it may even save lives. “Design Out Drowning” is created for a UK life-saving charity to do just that. 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve likely drawn in sand with a stick, finger, or a toe. It can be irresistible. This writing is somewhat bigger. And the messages are far more important than anything I’ve ever scribbled in grains.

The stunning coast of South West of England can be dangerous. For us unfamiliar with fast tides, hearing that extreme tides can come in faster than a human can run sounds unreal. I could be one of the many beachgoers caught by surprise by a fast-approaching tide. It’s a common incident along the UK coastline. It can quickly become a very dangerous situation.

Despite countless warning signs and campaigns, people fall victim to unpredictable tides yearly. So RNLI, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a charity that saves lives at sea, turned to the design company Imagemakers to find a new approach. “Design Out Drowning” is the result. 

David from Imagemakers says: “The concept is simple: to create signs in the sand that could direct beach users to either the safest part of the sea or inform them of potential risks and how to avoid them.”

Big signs texted in the sand visible not only from the beach but also from a distance and overlooking cliffs were tested at several locations last year. This summer, sand signing techniques are included in the RNLI Lifeguards training. 

Steve Instance, an RNLI Safety Manager says: “The initial tests have been well received and certainly captured people’s attention. We’ll continue testing throughout the summer and perfecting its installation while exploring how signs in the sand could be rolled out to other locations.”

Designed texts in sand direct beach users to the safest part of the sea, warn of potential risks and inform how to avoid them.

“Design Out Drowning” was just crowned the UK National Design Award winner in the category ”Wayfinding and Environmental Graphics.” The judges said: “This is an absolutely brilliant project, showing clear innovation, fitting with the environment and audience for an overall beautifully carried out piece.”

Sand can be the perfect canvas!

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