National Water Safety Forum



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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


Read More >


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

Read More >


NWSF Newsletter - March 2023


Message from the Chair

Spring is springing and I’m sure all members are grateful to see the lighter evenings arriving. 

So far this year, I’ve had the pleasure of joining Water Safety Wales for their meeting in January and Water Safety Scotland in February. I’m looking forward to hosting an event for International Women’s Day focused on open water swimming in early March and, of course, the RoSPA National Water Safety Conference is coming up, in Cardiff, on 15 March (further details below).

We’re also looking forward to the start of the 2023 water safety campaign calendar, with the Canal & River Trust and the National Fire Chiefs Council campaigns kicking us off – details of both are below. 

Finally, some comings and goings from the NWSF Co-ordinating Group (CG)… 

After quite an extensive appointment period, we’re pleased to welcome two new members, Dan Ryan and Martin Barwood. Having chatted to both Dan and Martin, I know they’re going to bring some great insight to the group.

I’d also like to record my thanks to a few people...

First, to George Rawlinson, who was the previous chair of NWSF and supported the CG with several significant pieces of work over the years, and who has also been the NWSF’s link to the National Search and Rescue Board. George will be leaving the CG to enjoy his retirement and more sailing.

Second, a thank you to Gareth Morrison, who has been leading the NWSF Comms Group and has recently stood down; and to Jim Watson, who has been an active contributor for many years, including as Chair of the Recreation advisory group – his extensive experience will be sorely missed.

I’d also like to welcome Claire Gauci, who joins as the new Chair of the Comms Group; and Ashley Jones, the new Chair of the Recreation advisory group.

Thank you to all of those departing for all your hard work and welcome to those joining the CG.

I also want to briefly say what an honour it was to be awarded the King’s Fire Service Medal for meritorious service in the New Year’s Honours list. Aside from my day job and 19 years in the Fire and Rescue sector, I know the citation was largely focused on the work I’ve done with water safety in the UK... work that has been so much more rewarding because of some fantastic partner agencies. So, when I do attend my investiture, I’ll be telling whichever member of the Royal Family I meet of the fantastic work being done by the NWSF to improve water safety and reduce drownings.

I hope you enjoy reading our newsletter and, of course, we’re always keen to hear about anything you’d like to see featured. 

Dawn Whittaker

NWSF Chair


Toddler Water Safety Week


The first ever Toddler Water Safety Week (06–10 February) was led by the Canal & River Trust, the waterways and wellbeing charity which protects and preserves 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales.

With hundreds of thousands of visits by parents with young children to canals each week, the initiative aimed to help parents and carers feel more confident about the time they enjoy along our waterways, with advice about talking to young children about how to stay safe by the water.


A 90-second film, supported by children’s TV presenter Maddie Moate, shows toddlers how to Stay Away From the Edge (stay SAFE) by taking two steps back. Two animated squirrels join in on the fun and young viewers can see footage of other toddlers learning to take two steps back from the water. A new learning bundle is free to download from the Trust’s website to help parents and childcare leaders start the conversation about water safety.

To watch the film and download the learning bundle of water safety-themed activities for young children, go to:

To watch the video on YouTube link, click here.


Be Water Aware


The National Fire Chiefs Council will run its annual ‘Be Water Aware’ campaign on 24–30 April.

The campaign raises awareness of the risk of accidental drowning and how to reduce the risk of unintentionally entering the water, and what to do if you find yourself or someone else in trouble in the water.

It advises who to call if an incident does occur, highlighting the role of fire and rescue services as responders and their work to reduce preventable deaths.


The toolkit and resources can be accessed on the NFCC website.


HM Coastguard launches new radio fillers


HM Coastguard is launching two new radio fillers at the end of March. One addresses the dangers of open water swimming through the story of a woman who gets in trouble while swimming in the sea. Luckily, a passer-by calls 999 Coastguard, who immediately send help to rescue her. The other filler features the ‘Float to live’ message through the story of a man who falls in the water while he’s out for a coastal run and, similar to the other filler, he’s rescued thanks to a passer-by who calls 999 Coastguard.

The radio fillers focus the safety message on taking a mobile phone as a means of calling for help and reminding people that in an emergency at the coast, they need to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If people get into difficulty, HM Coastguard (HMCG) can call on a range of search and rescue assets, from Coastguard rescue teams to helicopters or lifeboats, to rescue them. But HMCG would rather everyone stayed safe, so these new radio fillers were produced to help everyone avoid the dangers whilst out enjoying the sea/coast.

Listen out for the new radio fillers, as well as last year’s fillers on paddleboarding and cliff walking, on commercial radio stations, or visit the Maritime and Coastguard Agency/HMCG social media pages from 31 March to hear them.


Drowning and Incident Review research and update


The Drowning and Incident Review (DIR) is a process that has been created in Scotland by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), RoSPA and Water Safety Scotland. It aims to ensure a comprehensive review of each suspected accidental water-related fatality. The principal aim of the process is to gather all relevant data and information in order to systematically review each incident with a view to prevent a future occurrence.

The benefits of DIR are anticipated at both local and national level in Scotland. DIR will provide insight into water-based risks by local area, ensuring that those best placed to mitigate these risks are involved in the process and kept informed. Nationally, the enhanced data capture is anticipated to lead to the development of better-informed national strategies to tackle the issue of drowning prevention.

Research on the DIR has also been published in the BMJ Injury Prevention journal. This research revealed a number of key insights, including the ability of DIR to fill important data gaps in Scotland in a safe and structured way. The design of DIR was seen to be consistent, collaborative and accessible across the country. Areas seen as barriers included issues around legal concerns, representation and resources. The research provided a number of recommendations to help overcome these barriers and ensure the long-term sustainability of DIR.

These recommendations have now been implemented and DIR will soon be ready to launch in early Spring. A full training package, hosted by SFRS, will also be rolled out.

If you’d like to get in touch about DIR in Scotland, please email

Read the article here


British Canoeing recognised as a National Governing Body for SUP


British Canoeing has been formally recognised as a National Governing Body (NGB) for Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) after receiving confirmation from Sport England. This decision applies to England only.

For more information, click here.


MAIB report on Haverfordwest incident published

Following the tragic event at Haverfordwest Town Weir on 30 October 2021, in which four paddleboarders lost their lives, MAIB launched an investigation into the circumstances. The full report was published in December. One of several recommendations was made to UK National Sports Councils to address governance and guidance of the sport.

You can read the full report here.


New Forum Members 

In 2022, the Forum advertised for new members to join the Coordinating Group. Following our call for applications, we’re delighted to announce that we’ve filled the two positions advertised.


  • Dan Ryan, Programme Manager, Riverford Organic Farmers. Read Ryan’s bio.

Public health 

  • Martin Barwood, Leeds Trinity University. Read Martin’s bio.

We welcome Dan and Martin to the Forum, both of whom are looking forward to contributing their experience towards the aims of the Drowning Prevention Strategy. 


RoSPA launches ‘Protect our People’ campaign


The Retained EU Law Bill (REUL), currently going through parliament, threatens to abolish approximately thousands of pieces of longstanding legal protections on 31 December, affecting, among other things, seatbelts, construction and the safety of children’s toys.

RoSPA is calling on organisations and committees to join its Protect Our People campaign. More information about the Protect Our People campaign is available here.


RoSPA Water Safety Conference

There’s still time to get a place at the RoSPA National Water Safety Conference in Cardiff on 15 March.

For more information and to sign up, click here.


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:


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