National Water Safety Forum


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:


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