National Water Safety Forum



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NWSF Newsletter - December 2023


Message from the Chair

As I write this, it’s still November… and it’s still raining. 

We’ve seen flooding across the UK caused by storms Babet and Ciarán and, sadly, some loss of life. In my day job (Emergency Services), it never ceases to amaze me that many people try to drive through floodwater in vehicles and get stuck, while others head to the coast to try to capture dramatic photos of waves crashing against piers and coastlines, only to underestimate the risk and get swept off their feet or, worse, into the sea!

At this time of the year, therefore, we need to spread the word about winter water safety, and in this newsletter you can read updates on forthcoming campaigns that can help get the message across. Gathering data and intelligence, and conducting research, continue to be important for NWSF, and we’re pleased to be collaborating with the IDRA (International Drowning Research Alliance) and the WHO (World Health Organization), and we’ll continue to do so into 2024 through our membership. It’s also important that we work with academic institutions and government departments to keep abreast of the opportunities ahead. For example, we know that several government departments are working together to assess the impacts of extreme weather and, of course, weather and raised temperatures have an important bearing on water safety.

The NWSF Co-ordinating group have recently met, and you can follow up on their work on the website.  We’re in very early stages of discussions to build on the success of WSS (Water Safety Scotland) and WSW (Water Safety Wales) by seeking to collaborate with partners to create WSNI (Water Safety Northern Ireland). We’re also starting to consider a refresh of the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy early next year. So, if you’re involved in an advisory group, I encourage you to gather your thoughts on how we can best do this.

Finally, as this is the last newsletter of 2023, I would like to wish you all seasonal greetings, peace, and time with those you care about this Christmas.

Dawn Whittaker

Chair, NWSF


Research and conferences

Spatial clustering of drowning in the UK


Dr Martin Barwood and colleagues have released research which examines the spatial clustering of intentional and unintentional drownings using density-based spatial clustering of applications with the noise method.

You can read their research paper here.


A conceptual definition of drowning prevention

Justin-Paul Scarr and Dr Jagnoor Jagnoor recently published a research paper on the development of a conceptual definition of drowning prevention using the Delphi method.

You can read their paper here.


Local authority approaches to managing water safety - A 10-year comparative analysis (Scotland)

RoSPA has released research which looks at local authority approaches to water safety. Originally undertaken in 2013, and again in 2018, the research has been repeated to gain insight in 2023. The research shows a positive increase in the majority of indicators since 2013.

You can read the report here.


Drowning and Incident Review Presentations

Carlene McAvoy (RoSPA) and James Sullivan (SFRS) attended the 11th European Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, held in Reykjavik, Iceland, on 05–06 October. Carlene and James presented their innovative work on drowning prevention in Scotland, in particular the Drowning and Incident Review (DIR).

They also presented on DIR at the Physiological Society’s Conference on Drowning Prevention and Treatment in late October.




World Health Organisation's Global Report for Drowning Prevention

In May this year, the World Health Assembly adopted its first-ever resolution on drowning prevention. This resolution calls on governments and their partners, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), to accelerate action on drowning prevention with immediate effect. The resolution also requests the WHO to prepare a global status report on drowning prevention.

The report, which will be the first of its kind, will measure the country-specific magnitude of drowning, as well as the implementation of evidence-based intervention to prevent and respond to drowning. NWSF was designated to collate a response on behalf of the UK as a whole.

To read more about the report and the UK response, read the blog on the RoSPA website.


World Conference on Drowning Prevention

NWSF members Ross MacLeod, David Walker, Lee Heard and Martin Barwood presented a number of papers from the UK at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention on 04–07 December in Perth, Australia.

Ross presented on “Using research and evidence to drive the RNLI’s lifesaving Float to Live drowning prevention campaign,” together with “Lessons from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) approach to the challenge of responding to incidents involving water-based suicide and people in mental health crisis across the UK & Ireland”.

David presented on “How the UK National Water Safety Forum (UK NWSF) agreed to ‘Do One Thing’ on World Drowning Prevention Day (WDPD) 2022, and lessons learnt from uniting 50 organisations behind the UK’s largest ever drowning prevention campaign”.

Lee presented on “Methodology to navigate the complex UK political environment, including the mechanism of an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Water Safety”.

Martin presented on “Identifying risk factors for fatal UK drownings: an evidence base to inform key steps of the WHO drowning prevention implementation guide” and “Alcohol outlets, crimes and drowning: a geospatial study of England and Wales from 2012–2019”.


New guidance

The NWSF Inland and Coastal Groups will shortly be releasing guidance document on how to set up a Water Safety Partnership. The document brings together three approaches to creating a water safety group, the six key elements to consider when setting up a group, as well as four case studies from across the UK.

The document will be launched at a webinar on 24 January 2024. You can register for the webinar here.



Campaign updates

Respect The Water

The Respect The Water (RTW) working group held a meeting in Birmingham on 19 October to plan the optimisation of the campaign programme over the next two years.

One of the notable discussions was around messaging and how to take it to the next level.

A decision was made was to rebrand the 999 campaign message and change it to “Call, Tell, Throw”, the next step to help people react to someone in the water.

Over the next few weeks, media assets on the RTW website will be amended to reflect this new messaging.

In the coming months, the group will be looking at amplifying existing stakeholder campaigns, such as “Don’t Drink and Drown” and plans to launch more “media moments” to raise water safety awareness around the subjects of cold/warm weather, flooding and alcohol.

Finally, a reminder… if you’re looking to raise water safety awareness over the winter months, please make use of our updated winter social media assets which include ice safety.


Don't Drink and Drown

We’re currently just over halfway through RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign; thank you for your support so far this week and let’s keep up the momentum! You might have noticed that we’ve changed the look and feel of the campaign for December, with some brighter graphics and Christmas-themed posts.

You might have noticed that we’ve changed the look and feel of the campaign for December, with some brighter graphics and Christmas-themed posts. We’ll have more new posts to share over the next few days. 

As we continue with the messaging, please head to the various RLSS UK socials and share as far and wide as possible so that we can spread the word to “Be a Mate” and encourage everyone to find a safe route home away from the water.

If you’ll be taking part in any events for Don’t Drink and Drown, or if you’ve already done so, don’t forget to tag @RLSSUK on socials and send any images to


Float to Live

RNLI needs your vote!

RNLI’s Float to Live 2023 film is in the running for the Smiley Charity Film Awards and needs your help to get to the next round. Just a few clicks are needed to sign up, vote and share (all for free) to help RNLI get to the next stage. 

Vote here


Update on RLSS UK’s work with GoodSAM

RLSS UK has worked with GoodSAM since 2018, helping connect first responders to those experiencing a medical emergency. The partnership has now taken another step to help save even more lives and the app has been further developed to include locations of water rescue equipment in and around towns and cities to allow first responders to locate them quickly.

If you’ve already registered as a first responder on the app, or if you have the appropriate first-aid qualifications and intend to register, we encourage you to begin logging where items of water rescue equipment can be found to allow quick and easy access when they’re needed. The app will also allow those registered to report if equipment is missing or damaged. The development of the app will be launched in December, and you can find how to register below.

Registering on the GoodSAM App | Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK)

Step-by-step Guide to Registering Water Rescue Equipment on the GoodSAM App | Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK)


Upcoming 'Respect The Water' Safety video


A powerful film about the devastating impact of the loss of a father to drowning will be released in January, under the Respect The Water banner.

Representatives from HM Coastguard, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and the RNLI teamed up to produce the film, which hears from 27-year-old Robbie Jones as he tells the story of losing his dad Gareth to the sea in January 2021.

It is hoped that the tragic incident can help to educate people on the dangers of open water in bad weather and, ultimately, prevent anyone else suffering the same fate.


Launch of water safety education framework for 3–18 year olds

As part of the UK’s Drowning Prevention Strategy, NWSF aims to drive a generational shift in water safety education in England, with an increasing awareness of the everyday risks of water to ensure messaging reaches families as a whole. 

School-aged children are not a high-risk group, however drowning risk increases as children reach teenage years, peaking among 20–29 year olds. Encouraging safer attitudes and improving skills and behaviours ahead of time is an essential ongoing priority. It’s worth noting that the number of children who drowned in England increased from 20 in 2019/20 to 37 in 2021/22, which is a worrying development.

Recognising the pivotal role of education in drowning prevention, we continue to support practitioners to further develop children and young people’s awareness of the dangers of open water, while enabling them to safely participate in water-based activities. 

In 2024, we’ll be launching a messaging framework to support the provision of age- and stage-appropriate content for young people aged 3–18 years old in England. This will support practitioners in the development, delivery and evaluation of new resources, materials and interventions for an identified audience. This is a critical step to support those working in this space and will contribute to future work to ensure that more young people are able to access and develop valuable lifesaving knowledge, skills and understanding. 


Coasteering Incident Report

Following a coasteering fatality in 2019, a coroner has issued a Regulation 28 ‘Report to Prevent Future Deaths’ to address concerns about the activity. Details of the incident and the Regulation 28 can be found below.


Dorset coasteering victim's fitness not checked, coroner says - BBC News

Prevention of future deaths report 2023


Product Safety Recall

A product recall has been issued for Swimbubs Float Jacket Buoyancy Aid (2309-0155). The product presents a high risk of drowning.


Events and opportunities


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NWSF Newsletter - September 2023


Message from the Chair

Weather wise, it’s been a changeable summer: a hot June, a wet July, a variable August and a hot September (So far!). No doubt that will correlate with the incident data when we analyse the summer months.

It’s also obvious when looking at the latest domestic tourism figures that the cost of living crisis and higher inflation have had a bearing on chosen destinations for summer holidays, with many families choosing to remain in the UK.

World Drowning Prevention Day (WDPD) was held on the 25 July, and I want to offer my thanks to all members and organisations that worked hard to support the day. It certainly got a lot of press and media coverage! 

To coincide with WDPD, I was very pleased to join the Black Swimming Association (BSA), along with other organisations’ leaders and several foreign ambassadors at No. 10 Downing Street, to focus on the specific issue of ethnicity and drowning. If you haven’t yet caught up with the BSA’s report, #OurSwimStory, it’s a thought-provoking read.

As I write this, many young people are heading off to start university or college in unfamiliar cities. It’s an important time to re-emphasise some key messages, particularly about looking after friends on a night out and enjoying Fresher’s events, so we’ll be doing some messaging around that.

Finally, in my capacity as the National Fire Chiefs Council UK lead for drowning prevention, I will have taken part in a Water Safety & Water Rescue Twitter Talk on the 13 September, where I was joined by other water safety ambassadors.

I hope you find our regular newsletter informative and while it may feel early to start thinking about the nights “drawing in,” our communications group are already beginning to shift their attention to winter water safety messaging. 

Dawn Whittaker

Chair, NWSF



Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) welcomes a new CEO


Virginia McVea joined the MCA in April as new CEO, to oversee the work of the agency as it responds to tens of thousands of incidents at sea every year, inspects thousands of UK-registered ships, and protects over 11,000 miles of our coastline.

View the press release here.


Water Safety Debate


MPs debated water safety and drowning prevention on Thursday 13 July in the main House of Commons chamber.

During the debate, a small group of MPs discussed how to reduce cases of death by drowning, including by increasing education on water safety in schools. This adjournment debate was led by Rob Butler MP.



Swimming and water safety in schools

The 2019 School Sport and Activity Action Plan set out a cross-government commitment to collaborate at a national level to ensure that PE and sport are an integral part of both the school day and after-school activities.

An update on the plan’s progress was published in July 2023, including information on how swimming and water safety are being embedded in primary schools.

You can read the report here.


British Empire Medal awarded to water safety campaigner, Andrea Corrie

Since the loss of her son, who drowned in the River Thames, aged 19, in 2005, Andrea has tirelessly campaigned for better riverside safety, teaming up with the RNLI and the Fire and Rescue Service. She has been dedicated in her work to warn people of the dangers of water and what they can do if they see someone in trouble.

This work saw Andrea being awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours list. NWSF congratulates Andrea on her award as she continues raising awareness of the dangers of water.

You can read more about Andrea’s work here.




World Drowning Prevention Day

Watch the WHO Global Celebration video here.

UK Overview

WDPD saw lots of activity from a wide range of organisations to promote water safety. Events took place all over the UK, including in Manchester, the West Midlands, Norfolk and Bristol, to name but a few. Several notable buildings and monuments went “blue” in support of the cause: the Liver Building, Blackpool Tower, Clacton Pier, The Lowery and Skelmersdale Light Cube – it was an overwhelming response to the call to action.

Members of the Forum also lent their services in interviews to national and regional media stations, which really helped widen the reach of our messaging.

The Forum would like to thank all our members and partners who were involved in the day – we commend your efforts to promote water safety in your communities.

Scotland Overview

In Scotland, Water Safety Scotland collaborated with RoSPA, Scottish Water, Scottish Canals, Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to host its second Water Safety Open Day. The event was held at Helix Park, Falkirk – home to the famous Kelpies. The day was well attended, with an estimated 3,000 people and 20 stand holder organisations. Demonstrations included Newfoundland dogs and the Scottish Ambulance Service demonstrating emergency response to water rescue.

Feedback from visitors and stand holders has been overwhelmingly positive. One visitor summarised the activities as follows: “How to stay safe around water, how organisations like the RNLI and the Fire Service rescue people, that it’s never too late to learn to swim, how to do CPR, what to do if you fall into water.” Stand holders were equally enthusiastic: “I feel that this is an excellent way to share such an important message. Long may this event continue.”

Wales Overview

Water Safety Wales’ main WDPD event was at Llys-y-frân reservoir in Pembrokeshire and was hosted by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water.

As the sun shone, the event showcased the equipment and skills of various emergency services and organisations, gave members of the public a chance to get hands on and learn about water safety, and highlighted the work being done by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water to encourage safe participation in water sports at Llys-y-frân.

Several social media influencers and mainstream media were also present to spread the lifesaving messages of WDPD to new and diverse audiences. This included articles published by all the main Welsh media outlets.

Water Safety Wales also used WDPD to launch a report written with Public Health Wales highlighting the problem of drowning in children and young people in Wales. You can read more about this report later in the newsletter.

Chris Cousens – Chair of Water Safety Wales – extends a big thank you to everyone involved in making the event so successful, especially Hope Filby from Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water for setting things up and hosting so expertly, and to Carli Newell, who tragically lost her son Zac to drowning last year. Carli did many interviews and brilliantly supported the WDPD event with the help of the Forever 11 Charity set up in Zac’s, as well as supporting the aforementioned report.

To support the event, buildings also turned blue – including the Welsh Government’s CP1 building in Cardiff. Events also took place in Cardiff Bay, Bangor, Wrexham and Pontymoile Basin, and messages were shared on social media.


Don't Drink and Drown


RLSS UK will be running the first of its two 2023 'Don’t Drink and Drown' campaigns this month between 18 and 24 September.

'Don’t Drink and Drown' is RLSS UK’s national campaign that encourages smart decision-making around water after drinking, particularly targeting individuals to be responsible for their friends if they have had too much to drink, helping them to return home safely.


Every year, RLSS UK staff, partners and volunteers carry out activities and events in towns and cities that have experienced a particularly high number of alcohol-related drownings.

September’s campaign aims to target those who will be heading off or returning to university, while December’s campaign, 11–17 December, will focus on those who are enjoying meeting up with friends around the festive period.

To download resources for the campaign, visit here.

Thank you in advance for your support. 


Float to Live


The RNLI’s life-saving Float to Live campaign has been running all summer, with brand new campaign materials underpinned by research carried out by the University of Portsmouth’s Extreme Environment Laboratory (EEL), which tested people floating in still and moving water, in both fresh and salt water environments.

The research showed that floating is different for everyone: while some people naturally float with little movement, others require gentle use of their hands (sculling) and legs to stay afloat. It also showed that tilting the head back to submerge the ears is key.

These findings have been used to make subtle improvements to the messaging and the campaign materials.

These include social media posts, posters and a print-at-home ‘Float’ pocket guide, which are free and available for partners to use here.


Research and reports

Water-related fatalities in children and young people under 25 years of age, Wales, 2013-2022

Public Health Wales, under its Child Death Review Programme, and in conjunction with Water Safety Wales and RoSPA, released their report Water-related fatalities in children and young people under 25 years of age, Wales, 2013–2022 on WDPD. You can access the report here.

Last year saw a rise in drowning incidents in this age group in Wales, and it is hoped the report will provide a solid evidence base to support organisations working to prevent such incidents.


RLSS UK National Drowning Report UK 2022


2023 saw the launch of the first UK National Drowning Report from the Water Safety All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), authored by RLSS UK, and supported by NWSF.

The inaugural report provides a tangible picture of accidental drownings in the UK and uses data from the Water Incident Database (WAID) as well as other reliable data sources to provide the UK government with evidence-backed insights on why the approach to drowning prevention needs to be improved.

Since its launch, the report has been referenced in Parliament and widely reported on in the media. Thank you to everyone who contributed towards the report.

Download the report here.


NCMD report launched

July saw the launch of another report in the form of the National Child Mortality Database (NCMD) Deaths of children and young people due to traumatic incidents.

The report, co-authored by RLSS UK, shows that there has been a sharp increase in child drownings in England, with children from minority ethnic groups and families from deprived areas most at risk.

The report marks the first time that data has been available which classifies child drowning fatalities based on ethnicity and deprivation levels and highlights that the government must urgently address the inadequacies that are evident when looking at the current approach within education for swimming and class-based water safety.

Read the report here.


Investigating the spatial clustering of drowning of drowning events in the United Kingdom: A geospatial cross-sectional study

A cluster analysis study carried out by researchers at Leeds Trinity University (UK), Bournemouth University (UK), University of Portsmouth (UK) and University of Canterbury (New Zealand) has just been published.

Read the study here.


WAID2 - project update

WAID2 is a system designed to help NWSF members better understand serious water-related incidents and to make data-backed decisions when it comes to drowning prevention strategies. The new service is a re-development of the legacy WAID system and brings together drowning and other water-related incident data from several data-sharing partners and other data providers.

What have been the key deliverables on the project to date?

The project has focused on building the framework and mechanisms to efficiently collect incident data as and when it becomes available. The infrastructure and key components have been built alongside a new application (Power App) for capturing manual incident records and supporting data, while also helping to support processes around capturing details from coroners’ inquests. The core delivery is close to completion – further updates will be coming soon!


NWSF flooding advice

Flooding risk is increasing due to climate change and it’s increasingly likely that the UK will experience more frequent flooding.

With this in mind, the NWSF has produced a document which provides comprehensive advice for the public in a flooding incident.

Download the document here.


Events and opportunities


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NWSF Newsletter - Special WDPD edition June 2023

Message from the Chair

World Drowning Prevention Day (WDPD) is an opportunity for all agencies, charities and advocates who are passionate about water safety and drowning prevention. The campaign, which takes place annually on 25 July and is co-ordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), ensures a continuing spotlight on the issue of drowning and drowning prevention across the globe, and the UK National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) is committed to supporting it.

The WHO’s call to action, which you can read more about below, is designed to be inclusive, regardless of whether you’re already involved in promoting drowning prevention, or it’s the first time if you or your organisation are supporting a water safety campaign. 


The WHO’s call to action is encapsulated in the strapline:




NWSF already shares data on drowning, and develops guidance and delivers campaigns on drowning prevention, supported by advocacy work through its strategy, plan, advisory groups and projects. This year, we want to add this special newsletter to share more about our work and to highlight the importance of partnership.


To reduce drowning, we must proactively collaborate. 


Dawn Whittaker

NWSF Chair


World Drowning Prevention Day (WDPD)

WDPD, declared in the April 2021 UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/75/273 “Global drowning prevention”, is held annually on 25 July. This global advocacy event serves as an opportunity to highlight the devastating and profound impact of drowning on families and communities, and offers life-saving solutions to prevent such tragedies.

In this third WDPD, the WHO is asking countries and partners to respond to the call to action for global drowning prevention: 

Do one thing

If you’re not yet involved in drowning prevention, just do one thing to support.

Improve one thing

If you’ve already started to work in your area on drowning prevention, then improve one thing.

Add one thing

If you’re deeply engaged with drowning prevention, add one thing – there’s always more that can be done.


The WHO has provided suggestions on how individuals, communities and countries can ‘Do, Improve and Add’ one thing:

Visit the official World Drowning Prevention Day UN webpage


Access the WHO WDPD resource materials and campaign page here and specific 2023 materials here

Watch the recording of the WHO-led WDPD 2023 information webinar, which took place on 22 May 2023 (Passcode: HwKq3a*j)



NWSF-led WDPD 2023 webinar


NWSF hosted a webinar on 26 June covering the UK’s plans to support WDPD 2023. If you missed it, watch the recording here.


The slides of the webinar can be found here.

All the links and further updates can be found on the NWSF WDPD web page here.



Call to action

As the NWSF works with a broad range of organisations and partners, we want to share the powerful work that so many organisations are doing across the board to reduce drowning fatalities.

1. Decide how you are going to support WDPD through the ‘Do, Improve and Add one thing’ call from WHO – watch the recording and read the slides for ideas.

2. Please let us know what you/your group/your organisation are doing to support World Drowning Prevention Day by completing this short survey. In particular, if your event is in England, please let us know so that we can offer media the opportunity to attend.

3. After WDPD - share your stories and photos with us across the day, especially if you're going blue for WDPD. We want to show the positive impact our partners have across the UK. If you have an example of how drowning prevention education has made a difference to an individual or community, please email us at

Thank you for your continued support in raising awareness of water safety and drowning prevention.


Read More >


NWSF Newsletter - May 2023

Message from the Chair


Whilst Spring has sprung, King Charles III has been crowned and the daffodils have withered as I write this on 11 May, we haven’t seen much in the way of warmer temperatures.

However, we all know that warmer weather can be a major factor in the number of drownings. Another factor that influences young people going into the water is the post-exam season. If those two factors come together – school and university leavers celebrating post-exam season and warm weather – then we’ll all need to be on top of our drowning prevention messages.

I’d like to thank everyone who supported the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Be Water Aware campaign at the end of April. It’s always the start of our water safety and drowning prevention campaign calendar, and there were some great events and guidance shared. As you’ll read below, the next campaigns are on their way.

Also in this newsletter, you’ll see the link to the annual WAID data report for 2022 statistics, which are released in May each year. We decided to make a bit more noise around the statistics report this year and you’ll also be interested to know that the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is also working on a document with colleagues to try to align with what other countries do with their data reports. We’ll include that link on the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) website when published.

Since the last newsletter, I’ve attended the RoSPA Water Safety Conference, a Water Safety Wales meeting and a Swim England Strategy meeting; hosted a ‘Women in Open Water Swimming’ webinar to mark International Women’s Day; and chaired the NFCC Water Safety Board. I’ve also been involved in the NFCC Be Water Aware campaign and contributed to several surveys and consultations. There’s always something to attend or do, and that’s on top of my day job running an emergency service, but I do try to respond to requests when I can. So, if you’re thinking of inviting me to attend or speak at an event, do give me plenty of advance notice.

Finally, the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the World Health Organization has published information on World Drowning Prevention Day 2023, which takes place on 25 July. Visit the site for suggestions, guidance, logos, branding and social media assets.

Dawn Whittaker

NWSF Chair


WAID Release

The public have been urged to ‘respect the water’ as the latest statistics from WAID show 226 accidental drownings in 2022, with more dying at inland waters than at the coast.

Key statistics

  • There were 226 accidental fatalities in the UK in 2022: 105 of them during June, July and August.
  • Of the 226 fatalities, 151 were in England; 45 in Scotland; 22 in Wales; and 8 in Northern Ireland.
  • Inland waters, such as rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs and quarries, continue to be the leading locations for accidental drowning, with 60% of deaths.
  • Males continue to be over-represented, with 83% of accidental fatalities. 
  • Recreational activities accounted for 58% of accidental fatalities.

A full trend report for the UK and by individual nation can be accessed online here.

The interactive dashboard can be accessed here.



Respect The Water

This year, we’ve taken the opportunity to use the release of the 2022 fatality report to raise awareness of our #RespectTheWater campaign and remind people ahead of the hot summer months to make the right choice if they see someone in difficulty in the water.

As Dawn says in the release: “These devastating numbers are an annual tragic reminder about the importance of raising awareness of water safety and drowning prevention, so we urge the public to understand the dangers and to learn the importance of knowing what to do in an emergency: if you see someone in trouble in the water, the best way you can help is by staying calm, staying on land, and following the 3-step rescue guide – Call, Tell, Throw.”

You can read the full press release here.


Float To Live

Today sees the launch of the RNLI’s 2023 Float to Live campaign.  It aims to educate people on five simple steps on what to do if they get into difficulty in the water.

You can find more details here.


Royal Life Saving Society UK's Drowning Prevention Week

This year’s Drowning Prevention Week will take place on 17–24 June. Many of you will have supported the campaign in previous years and RLSS UK would love to continue this support for 2023.

With your help, last year RLSS UK managed to reach over 341,000 school children with their free education resources and 2.79million people had the opportunity to view the Drowning Prevention Week animation on YouTube.

RLSS UK have a range of resources available on their website which you can download and use, including social media graphics for you to share and will be posting throughout the week so your support is hugely appreciated.

RLSS UK will be working with various schools to provide education resources for children and will also be launching a brand-new animation which covers the Water Safety Code to encourage families to start talking about water safety with their children.

Visit for further details. 


World Drowning Prevention Day (25 July 2023)

The NWSF will be hosting a webinar on our plans to support World Drowning Prevention Day (WDPD) through promotion of our #RespectTheWater campaign. We’ll be talking through the World Health Organization’s Call to Action for WDPD and suggestions on how Forum members can support the initiative, from social media through to on-the-ground activities.

We’ll be recording the webinar so that those who can’t attend will be able to watch it at a more convenient time. A link to this recording, along with additional materials, will be sent out in a special WDPD newsletter a few days later.

The webinar is planned for 26 June at 11am.

The link to join is here.


Alternatively, please email for the calendar invite and link.


Do you have any plans for WDPD?

If you are already planning an event or “Turning Blue” for WDPD, please take the opportunity to participate in our WDPD survey here.


Drowning and Incident Review

On 2 May, the Drowning and Incident Review (DIR) became available for use across Scotland.

Created by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the DIR aims to gather all relevant data and information in order to systematically review each accidental water-related incident with a view to prevent a future occurrence.

The DIR will be used across Scotland with local PAWS groups.

  • DIR training is available here
  • The DIR guidance document is available here


NWSF Flooding Advice

Over the last few months, we have been working on updated safety advice for flooding events. We will circulate the link for this once it is published on our website.


Call for stories

As the National Water Safety Forum works with a broad range of organisations and partners, we want to share the powerful work that so many organisations are doing across the board to reduce drowning fatalities.

We are collating case studies and stories that truly show the positive impact our partners have across the UK. Please send in your stories to:


Read More >


Press Release



With 46% of UK accidental drownings in 2022 taking place in the three summer months of June, July and August, the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) is reminding people to Respect the Water as the warm weather begins but with water temperatures remaining dangerously cold.


The accidental drownings form part of the total water-related fatalities in the UK – for 2022 the total number of deaths in water was 597, a decrease of 19 from the previous year.


The statistics and figures in the report are from the Water Incident Database (WAID), which is maintained by the NWSF. The key accidental drowning insights are as follows:

  • There were 226 accidental fatalities in the UK in 2022; 105 of them during June, July and August.
  • Of that 226, 151 of them were in England; 45 in Scotland; 22 in Wales; 8 in Northern Ireland.
  • Inland water, such as rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs, and quarries continue to be the leading locations for accidental drowning with 60% of deaths.
  • Males continue to over represent with 83% of accidental fatalities.
  • Recreational activities accounted for 58% of accidental fatalities.


#RespecttheWater is the partnership campaign run by the NWSF and aims to provide simple life saving advice to help members of the public take personal responsibility for their own and their family’s safety, which a focus this year on knowing how to help other people in trouble.


If you see someone else in trouble in the water this summer, remember Call, Tell, Throw:

  • Call 999 – ask for Fire & Rescue if inland or the Coastguard if by the sea.
  • Tell the struggling person to try to float on their back.
  • Throw them something that floats.


The Forum will also be promoting the #RespectTheWater campaign later in the summer for World Drowning Prevention Day on 25th July.


Dawn Whittaker, NWSF Chair & CEO East Sussex Fire Rescue Service said: 

 “The extreme heat last summer presented considerable challenges at our coastal and inland waterways as more people entered the water to cool down. With another summer of unprecedented heat ahead, we are promoting the #RespectTheWater campaign to help people stay safe while still enjoying their time in and by the water.


“These devastating numbers are an annual tragic reminder about the importance of raising awareness of water safety and drowning prevention, so we urge the public to understand the dangers and to learn the importance of knowing what to do in an emergency: if you see someone in trouble in the water, the best way you can help is by staying calm, staying on land, and following the 3-step rescue guide – Call, Tell, Throw.

“We have seen increased numbers participating in water sports and water-based activities and
consequently a rise of the number of incidents associated with activities such as Stand-up Paddle boarding and Open Water Swimming. We want people to enjoy the water safely, so we will continue to focus on guidance, education, and awareness for the public.

“We will continue to work together to reduce deaths caused by drowning and water related injuries in the UK, and endeavour to reach our collective goal of halving accidental drownings in the UK by 2026. The global water safety community is onboard with a UN resolution recognising the scale and burden of drowning, calling for urgent international action.”


To view and download the WAID 2022 report visit  Annual reports and data | National Water Safety Forum.


For more information about the #RespectTheWater campaign visit

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