At some parts of the world, the water level during the low tide and the high tide can exceed 3 meters. It would be unwise to walk too far offshore during low tide, because when you want to come back to shore, you may have to swim instead, as by then at some parts of the sea, the water level may be above your head.
You may be able to swim back. But the current may be very swift. People have lost their life because when they walked offshore, the tide was low. When they wanted to return, the tide was high. Only those who were able to swim could make it. But the current might be stronger than the swimmers!
You cannot expect lifeguards to be on all public beaches nor can you expect warning sign boards to be erected at those dangerous spots.
The most serious drowning history ever recorded in Asia happened in the area connecting Tibet and India. In 1199 CE, Muhammad Bakhtyar, after conquering India, was on his way to invade Tibet when bad weather conditions forced him to retreat. He and his army perished while trying to cross a river, because of sudden flood.
In Asia, especially at the mountainous regions, some of the river water level may be very low. But during the monsoon season, if you happen to be caught during a thunder storm and torrential rain, within an hour the water level can rise many meters.
The latest news I heard about drowning was on Saturday, Oct 13, 2007. Four of the passengers were confirmed dead and three were missing. This sort of ferry accidents happen every year, not just in any one country, but global. People still take no notice of it to prevent the accident from recurring.
When you must travel by ship, from point A to point B, find out from the captain if there are enough life jackets to go round should there be an emergency. See the jackets for yourself, not just believe him. Many captains would tell you that there are more than enough jackets to go round and that they are locked at certain places. It is not true. He does not lose anything by making the jackets visible. He can promise you the moon and the other planets.
If you must travel by sea, buy an air inflatable life jacket and put it in your bag. An inflatable jacket is the best choice because it is occupying very little space when it is not inflated.
During your next trip by ship, have a good look at the ship you are going to board. Is it well maintained? Is it too old to be safe? Decide whether or not to board by yourself.
For some reason, ships without life jackets and valid certification are running in many countries. But your life is in your own hand. You decide if you wish to risk your life.
The owner would surely say the ship is seaworthy and that he had a valid permit. If he has, he will be proud to display it at a place where every passenger can read it. You need to check if all the passengers are manifested because your own life may be at risk. More passengers means more money. So why would a captain turn down the remaining passengers even though he knew the ship would be overloaded?
During the above accident, the fire started from the engine room. The crew jumped into the water (abandoned ship), leaving the about 100 passengers to fence for themselves.