Drowning prevention - be water aware

Water rescue training on a river

Around 320 people drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences.

Many people that drown just happen to be near water - such as runners, walkers and fisherman. 

  • 321 people accidently drowned in 2015.

  • 49% of people that accidently drowned in 2015 were taking part in everyday activities near water - they had no intention of entering the water.

  • In 2015, 25% of people who accidently drowned were running or walking near water- making runners and walkers the highest group at risk of drowning in the UK.

  • 71 People aged 15- 29 drowned in 2015 with 35% (25) of these drowning victims having alcohol in their system.

We are asking people to be ‘Be Water Aware’ - Don't assume you're not at risk of drowning because you don’t intend to go in the water.

Please read the safety advice below, so that you are aware of the dangers of being near water and how to keep yourself safe.

Safety advice for runners and walkers

  • Stick to proper pathways.

  • Avoid walking or running near water in the dark.

  • Don't walk or run next to water if levels are high.

  • Look out for trip or slip hazards - pay attention to your footing.

  • When running or walking next to water, stay clear of the edges.

Safety advice when fishing

  • Wear a lifejacket.

  • Take a fully charged mobile phone.

  • Make sure you let someone know where you are going to fish and what time you are likely to return.

  • Double check your fishing spot. Is it safe? For example, riverbanks can erode and just because it was safe one day doesn’t mean it still is.

  • Coastal and sea fishing is particularly high risk - make sure you know your spot is safe and you won’t get cut off by the tide.

Safety advice for students and young adult drinkers

  • Don't let a night out end in tragedy - take a safe route home away from water.

  • Avoid walking near water even if the path is lit - in the dark you may not see trip hazards of even the waters edge.

  • Stay with your group and don't wander off if you become separated.

  • Keep an eye on any friends who are worse for wear and make sure you help them home.
  • Make sure you store a taxi number in your phone and some emergency money at home so you can pay. If the money is at home you can't lose it or accidently spend it.

Safety advice for dog walkers

  • Don't lean into water and try and lift your dog out - you can topple in.

  • Never enter the water to try and save a dog - the dog usually manages to scramble out.

  • If your dog loves the water keep it on a lead to prevent it jumping into hazardous or unsafe areas.

  • Remember wet riverbanks, steep edges or jagged rocks can make it hard for a dog to scramble out and they are a slip risk for owners.

  • Even dogs that like swimming can usually only swim for short bursts - keep and eye of your dog and don't let it enter the water if it's older or tired.

  • If your dog has struggled in the water it may have inhaled water and should see a vet. Dogs can drown after the event if water has entered the lungs.

Drowning prevention - more safety advice and tips

Dangers of swimming in open water - safety tips

Film - water dangers

Cold water shock

Water safety advice from The Royal Life-Saving Society UK (opens in new window)

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