National Water Safety Forum


September newsletter from the National Water Safety Forum



Message from the Chair

This summer has been historic for the National Water Safety Forum.

Following a UN General Assembly resolution passed in April 2021, the first-ever World Drowning Prevention Day was held on Sunday July 25. Around the world, individuals and organisations came together to share a simple yet powerful message ‘anyone can drown, but no one should’. This was truly a milestone for all those who are working towards a future without drowning.

Tragically, we also saw a spike in accidental drownings during the UK heatwave earlier this summer. As temperatures started to soar on Friday July 16, sadly so did the number water-related incidents. We will not know the full extent of the loss of life during the heatwave until we publish the WAID report next year. However, we do know that in this period we were seeing roughly double the average number of water-related incidents we would expect to see in a ‘normal’ year.

With extreme weather events possibly here to stay, it is vital that members of the National Water Safety Forum learn the lessons from this summer and double down on our efforts to reduce the number of accidental drownings. 

On World Drowning Prevention Day, NWSF members demonstrated how we can have greater impact when we speak with one voice. We will carry forward that energy and unity of purpose to our ongoing Respect the Water Campaign.

We achieve so much more together. 

Until next time,
Dawn Whittaker
Chair of the National Water Safety Forum. 



World Drowning Prevention Day

For the first time in its 75 year history, the United Nations (UN) has adopted a resolution on drowning prevention. As part of the resolution, July 25th has been designated as World Drowning Prevention Day.

Over a five day period, in the run up to World Drowning Prevention Day,  more than 38,000 impressions were clocked up on the NWSF twitter account alone. Many NSWF member organisations and individuals shared messages and assets relating to World Drowning Prevention Day on their own channels.

In Scotland, The Kelpies, 30ft horse-head structures, were lit up in blue to mark this historical moment (see below). A number of national and regional outlets covered the awareness-raising day including: The Scotsman, The Telegraph  & Argus and Falkirk Herald.

Commenting on the first World Drowning Prevention Day, Dawn Whittaker, NWSF Chair said: “I know I speak for all members of the National Water Safety Forum when I say that I welcome the UN resolution on drowning prevention and this new awareness-raising day which is all the more poignant because of the recent spike in accidental drownings during the heatwave in July.

"I look forward to seeing the impact of World Drowning Prevention Day in the years to come.” 



Ministerial Round Table

In July, members of the National Water Safety Forum attended a roundtable discussion with UK Government Minister for Aviation, Maritime and Security, Robert Courts MP.

The meeting was convened during ‘Maritime Safety Week’ in order to discuss the UN resolution on drowning prevention, swimming lessons in schools and the latest Water Incident Database (WAID) report. The discussion focused on the work of the  National Water Safety Forum and representations were made about drowning prevention at the highest levels of government. 



Emergency Services Day

Emergency Services Day (also known as 999 Day) is a national day across the UK that is supported by HM The Queen and is held annually on September 9.

#999Day highlights the work of the emergency services, promotes using the emergency services responsibly, educates the public about basic lifesaving skills, and advertises the many career and volunteering opportunities available with the services. 

The National Water Safety Forum is encouraging members to support 999 day by sharing messages on their social media channels. 

Download #999Day assets




Later this month, The Royal Life Saving Society will be launching their #BeAMate campaign, which encourages smart decision making whilst intoxicated around water. The campaign targets individuals to be responsible for their friends, if they have had too much to drink.  

To coincide the start of autumn term at some UK universities, the #BeAMate campaign will run from  September 19-26 and will resume on December 6- 12 as the Christmas party season begins.

 Read More


Save The Date: RoSPA Water Safety Conference Nov 18 

The RoSPA Water Safety Conference 2021 will be held online on the November 18 and will focus on current developments in water Safety in specific reference to the recent UN Resolution on drowning prevention and how the UK can work towards meeting this challenge. 

Through a global, national and local lens, the conference will focus on examples of research, partnership working, collaboration and the future for water safety and drowning prevention in the UK. 



Parliamentary Debate on Water Safety

 On Monday 12 July 2021, Catherine McKinnell MP,  led an UK Parliament E-petition debate relating to water safety to seek an enhancement to the current statutory requirement for water safety delivery in England.

The petition, signed by more than 100,000 people, called for improvements to water safety education in schools and was launched led by ‘Doing It For Dylan’ campaigner, Rebecca Ramsey MBE. 

At the conclusion of the debate the Minister of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb, made a commitment to open dialogue with the water safety sector and the NWSF.  NWSF colleagues have been proactively working on a proposal to move the conversation forward.

Watch the debate

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