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NWSF Newsletter - March 2024

Message from the Chair

As we approach the start of spring 2024, our member organisations are all busy focusing on plans for campaigns, events and progressing education opportunities for water safety.

This is a very full newsletter with lots of information, and I’d like to thank all contributors for sharing their updates.

I was delighted to attend the RNLI 200th anniversary at Westminster Abbey on Monday 04 March. I’m sure all employees and volunteers associated with the charity will feel rightly proud.

The National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) coordinating committee held their Spring meeting virtually on 12 March. During this meeting plans for the next UK Drowning Prevention Strategy, as well as this year’s campaigns, and preparing the annual data report for 2023 incidents were discussed.

I encourage any new readers of the newsletter to visit here and consider registering with the NWSF mailing list. For more information, email

Dawn Whittaker

Chair, NWSF


Research and publications

Association between air temperature and unintentional drowning risk in the United Kingdom 2012-2019: A nationwide case-crossover study

A new study has been published which examines the relationship between weather conditions and the risk of drowning. Hills, S., Hobbs, M., Brown, P., Tipton, M. & Barwood, M. (2024).

You can read it here.


Promoting Swimming: A Positive Approach to Public Health

Letter to the BMJ highlighting the benefits of swimming. Watson, M. C. & Neil, K. E. (2024).

You can read it here.


Handbook on Drowning - Prevention, Rescue and Treatment (3rd Ed.)

Martin Barwood, Professor at Leeds Trinity University and a member of our Coordinating Group, will be contributing to this forthcoming publication with a chapter on ‘The epidemiology of drowning by location’.


New guidance

Education Resources

The NWSF education group has been working to build a framework to help with the development of educational materials and messaging on water safety.

The framework provides a set of consistent core messages for practitioners and organisations working at all levels to plan, develop, deliver and evaluate water safety education campaigns, teaching and learning resources, and interventions. Please note that this is for England only – devolved nations have their own educational strategy for water safety.

You can read about the resources for England here.


 Water Safety Partnerships - Guidance

On January 24, we successfully launched NWSF guidance 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.

Topics include:

  • How to set up a group
  • Water safety toolkits
  • The benefits of partnership working
  • A case study of best practice

You can access the guidance and a recording of the webinar launch here.


Unique Location Codes Guidance

Water Safety Scotland (WSS) has launched its guidance document on Unique Location Codes (ULCs) for use in Scotland.

The aim of the document is to provide a consistent format for water safety assets such as signs, Public Rescue Equipment (PRE) stations, and other fixed installations. This will help promote consistency and ensure one format to embed into emergency service control room systems.

Linked to coming research on water safety signage (see below), ULCs are an essential part of a water safety sign. To read the new guidance document, click here.


Signage Research

WSS has released a new report detailing three phases of research undertaken in 2023 and 2024 on water safety signage.

The results of the research show that the proposed new signage, created by WSS partners, is clear and understandable to members of the public. Participants demonstrated a high rate of understanding of the component parts of the sign, such as hazard identification, the ULC, and what to do in an emergency.

Read the full research report here.


Campaign updates

 Water Safety for Little Explorers Campaign

In February, the Canal & River Trust launched the second year of their Water Safety for Little Explorers campaign. The campaign aims to give parents, carers and early educators the confidence and tools to speak to children under five about being safe by water.

This year, the Trust has launched a water safety storybook. It tells the story of Squirrel and Mouse, who lose their acorn ball in a canal. With the help of their friends, they get their ball back and learn all about staying safe by water.

2,000 nurseries along the Trust’s 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales received a free printed copy of the book and the Trust ran storytelling events during the February half-term holiday in libraries and at Trust museums and attractions. Since the start of the campaign, the Trust has secured funding to print another 3,000 English books and a new bilingual book in Welsh and English.

To read the online storybook (available in English and Welsh), watch a short film with catchy song and access downloadable learning resources click here.


 Be Water Aware

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) will be running Be Water Aware on 22–28 April.

Be Water Aware is NFCC’s UK campaign to raise awareness of the risk of accidental drowning. It aims to provide advice to people so they can enjoy time in, on and around water safely and raise awareness of what to do if an incident should happen. It is supported by fire and rescue services and partners, and we encourage members to support the campaign.

The campaign is timed to run ahead of the warmer weather, when fire and rescue services see an increase in incidents.

Further information and resources to support the campaign will be available on the NFCC website


RNLI turns 200!

On Monday 4 March, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) celebrated 200 years of volunteers giving their time to save lives at sea.

Over the past 200 years, RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards, funded entirely by public donations – have saved an incredible 146,277 lives.

Since the charity was founded in 1824, its volunteer crews have launched lifeboats 380,328 times, saving 144,277 lives, while its lifeguards – who became part of the RNLI’s lifesaving service in 2001 – have responded to 303,030 incidents on some of the UK’s busiest beaches, saving around 2,000 lives.

The number of lives saved by the RNLI equates to an average of two lives every day for 200 years.

A Service of Thanksgiving to mark the 200 years took place at Westminster Abbey on 04 March 2024.

Throughout its bicentenary year, the charity is running events and activities to remember its history and celebrate the modern lifesaving service it is today, while hoping to inspire generations of future lifesavers and supporters.

For further information about the RNLI’s 200th anniversary, visit


Water Safety Partnerships: Spotlight on Manchester

The Greater Manchester Water Safety Strategic Partnership (GMWSSP) has established Water Safety Partnerships (WSPs) in 9 of the 10 Greater Manchester (GM) boroughs and is currently in discussions to establish the 10th and final WSP.

GMWSSP is encouraging all WSPs to undertake a comprehensive risk review of all local water risks. This will then form the basis of a Community Water Safety Action Plan. Additionally, a Tactical Group will meet quarterly to align its approach across GM and share best practice.

This will allow national and regional experts to deal directly with local practitioners. Funding for all 10 WSPs has been applied for from the Greater Manchester Police Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (proceeds of crime) fund and further funding and joint procurement opportunities are being sought locally. 


Product Recalls

There were a substantial number of PPE products recalled from various outlets listed on 22/01/2024. Please see details below.

Product Recall: NEWAO Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0063)

Product Recall: NBY Life Jacket (Blue) sold via Wish (2310-0050)

Product Recall: Inflatable Lifejacket P14061 (Blue Camouflage) sold via Wish (2310-0053)

Product Recall: SBART Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0135)

Product Recall: NEWAO Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0147)

Product Recall: Blue Camouflage Inflatable Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0148)

Product Recall: NBY Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0149)

Product Recall: Unbranded Orange Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0151)

Product Recall: Yellow Life Jacket CQYBII-150N sold via Wish (2310-0152)

Product Recall: Protackle Multifunctional Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0154)

Product Recall: Yellow NBY Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0153)

Product Recall: Pink and Blue Children's Swim Vest sold via Wish (2310-0156)

Product Recall: Blue NBY Flotation Aid sold via Wish (2310-0157)

Product Recall: HAOYUANGXING Adult Life Jacket (Orange) sold via Amazon (2311-0061)

Product Recall: Unbranded Black and Orange Life Jacket sold via Amazon (2311-0063)

Product Recall: Sailtrek Life Jacket sold via Amazon (2311-0078)

Product Recall: Hisea Life Jacket sold via Amazon (2311-0106)

Product Recall: Omouboi Life Jacket sold via Amazon (2311-0109)

Product Recall: Yon Sub Life Jacket sold via Amazon (2311-0112)

Product Recall: Black Life Jacket with Two Buckles sold via Amazon (2311-0113)

Product Recall: Marine Work Life Jacket sold via Amazon (2311-0114)

Product Recall: Children's Blue and Grey Patterned Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0143)

Product Recall: Jiuran XS Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0150)

Product Recall: Unbranded Pink Floral Swim Vest sold via Wish (2310-0158)

Product Recall: Unbranded Orange Hand Tie Closure Life Jacket sold via Wish (2310-0155) 


Other news

A recent BBC article examines the proposal that naming heatwaves might be introduced (as the Met Office currently does with storms) to increase communication and awareness, and help people to protect themselves.

Please let us know your thoughts!


Events and opportunities

  • 15th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, Delhi, 02–04 September 2024
  • Calling all stand up paddleboarders: Discover how to have a great time on the water this year with the RNLI’s water safety team and Canoe Wales in a free one-hour webinar on Tuesday 26 March at 7.30pm. We would encourage anyone thinking of heading onto the water in 2024 to sign up.






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