National Water Safety Forum



There are 51 items on 11 pages.


NWSF Newsletter - June 2024


Message from the Chair

Warmer weather towards the end of May brought the inevitable increase in people flocking to the coast and inland waterways... and sadly the loss of lives.

The loss of two teenage boys from Newcastle, who simply went out for some fun in the River Tyne, is a stark reminder of why we all need to continue to try to educate people about water safety risks and the importance of being well prepared to enjoy water safely. Our thoughts are with the families and community who have been impacted.

May also saw a lot of activity for the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), as we prepared for the release of the annual WAID report, which outlines analysis of the fatalities in water during 2023. This report has become an important source of information for all agencies and forums working to improve water safety. The link to the report is below and I’d like to thank all those involved who have helped to produce and promote it.

The NWSF is also involved in supporting the work of the World Health Organization in undertaking its upcoming review of drowning. The final report, due later in 2024, will no doubt draw some important conclusions and recommendations for all nations and point to good practice around the world.

The NWSF and its members are also busy making plans for the refresh of its advisory groups and strategy. A lot has changed since the initial UK Drowning Prevention Strategy was published in 2016, with the strengthening of Water Safety Scotland and Water Safety Wales, and the early development of a new forum of partners in Ireland, so it's important to ensure our national UK forum remains fit for purpose. 

As the summer arrives and we start to plan for the holiday season, it will be important to continue to share the core messages of our #RespectTheWater campaign.

Finally, as my time as Chair of the NWSF will be ending later this year and we’ll be seeking someone to take over this role, this is my penultimate newsletter. So, with that in mind, may I wish all members a positive summer season and thank you in advance for what I know is always the most demanding period for all those involved in water safety and response.

Dawn Whittaker

Chair, NWSF


Research and publications

WAID data release


The public have been urged to “learn what to do in an emergency”, as the latest statistics from WAID show 236 accidental drownings in 2023.

Key statistics

  • Of the 236 drownings, 157 were in England; 47 in Scotland; 28 in Wales; and 4 in Northern Ireland.
  • Males continue to over represent, with 83% of accidental fatalities.
  • Everyday activities, such as walking and running, accounted for 48% of accidental fatalities.
  • 83% of accidental fatalities were male.
  • Males aged 60-69 were the highest group for accidental fatalities.
  • 63% of accidental fatalities happened at inland waters.
  • Recreational activities accounted for 44% of accidental fatalities.

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

The interactive dashboard can be accessed here.



Float to Live

The RNLI launched its 2024 Float to Live campaign in the last week of May. The campaign is underpinned by joint research with the University of Portsmouth, which highlights that everyone floats differently depending on factors including experience, practice, and the type of open water environment, e.g. freshwater vs salt water, moving water vs still water. The campaign has been independently tested using focus groups to ensure the message is understood clearly by people from different genders, background, ages and communities, so it should be useful to everyone, both inland and around the coast.

The RNLI is asking for your help to spread this message far and wide, so please share the campaign, both personally with friends and family, but also professionally via appropriate channels and networks. Various free resources are available to download from the RNLI website if you’d like to support the campaign. This includes a compelling Float to Live video, inspiring stories about how the campaign has helped save lives, an easily shareable 30-second social media video, comprehensive instructions on how to float effectively, static social artwork, and much more. 

To support the campaign, follow the links below:

Float to Live campaign

Survivor Float to Live stories

Float Toolkit


Drowning Prevention Week

Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Drowning Prevention Week (DPW) is one of the biggest water safety campaigns of the year, targeting families, carers, teachers and instructors of children aged five to fifteen years old with the aim of educating them about how to enjoy water safely. The campaign begins in just a couple of days (15–22 June) so please get involved!

This year, RLSS UK has updated lots of fantastic, free DPW resources using well-loved characters from its previous campaigns. These are available to download now, so please do make use of them during the campaign week. We particularly love the new colouring and activity sheets!

No child should drown, and with the right water safety education – such as knowledge of the Water Safety Code – accidental drownings are preventable. Please help RLSS UK by sharing its life-saving messaging far and wide this DPW. Together, we can reach even more families and ensure that everyone understands how to enjoy water safely, ahead of the summer holidays.


World Drowning Prevention Day (WDPD)

WDPD 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.

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 support the campaign:

  • visit the official WHO webpage
  • access the WHO WDPD resource materials and campaign page 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 2024 Webinar

The NWSF hosted a webinar on 06 June covering the UK’s plans to support WDPD 2024. If you missed it, watch the recording here.

The slides of the webinar can be found 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 one thing, Improve one thing, Add one thing’ call from WHO – watch the recording and read the slides for ideas.
  2. After WDPD, share your stories with us! 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.



Water Safety Signage

Following the Water Safety Signage Research Report released earlier this year, Water Safety Scotland has released a full guidance document on the creation of water safety signage for use in Scotland.

The guidance has one key objective: to provide a step-by-step guide for landowners and managers to create consistent and easy-to-understand water safety signage. It complements previous guidance on Unique Location Codes.

The guidance will now be implemented across three or four areas of Scotland within the next nine months. The full guidance document is available online here.


Product Recalls

There were a substantial number of PPE products recalled from various outlets listed on 05/04/2024. Please see details below.

Product Recall: Camouflage Adult Buoyancy Vest sold via AliExpress (2403-0044)

Product Recall: WENTSEN Adult Buoyancy Vest sold via AliExpress (2403-0045)

Product Recall: Unisex Neoprene Super Light Buoyancy Vest sold via Wish (2310-0057)

Product Recall: Professional Polyester Adult Kid Life Jacket Orange Universal sold via AliExpress (2402-0073)


Other news

Water Safety Wales held a very successful event, A Wales Without Drowning: Our Joint Vision, at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay on 08 May.

The event celebrated the strengthened link between Water Safety Wales and the Welsh Government, and looked at how we can work together to strive for our vision of a Wales without drowning.

Keynote speaker was Huw Irranca-Davies MS, Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, who pledged his commitment to supporting drowning prevention in Wales.

Other speakers were Chris Cousens, Water Safety Wales Chair; Fergus Feeney, Chief Executive of Swim Wales, who spoke about the need to increase school swimming and water safety education in schools in Wales; and Leeanne Bartley, the mother of Mark Allen who sadly drowned in 2018, who spoke of her #MarkAllensLaw petition and campaign, which was the catalyst for the closer relationship between Water Safety Wales and the Welsh Government.

RoSPA, who also attended the event, has recently been awarded funding from the Welsh Government to support the delivery of the Wales Drowning Prevention Strategy 2020–2026 over the next year and hopefully beyond.

The event, which was kindly sponsored by Newport East MS, John Griffiths, also included displays of emergency service equipment and practical water safety demonstrations.

The following week, on 15 May, John Griffiths MS asked a question to Huw Irranca-Davies MS, in a Plenary session of the Senedd, about the event and the Welsh Government’s commitment to Water Safety work in Wales more generally. You can watch Mr Irranca-Davies’ answer at 1hr 34 mins of the recording here.

There will be a fuller debrief of the event at the next Water Safety Wales group meeting on 26 June.





RoSPA are looking for a Trainee Water & Leisure Consultant to join their team. If you are interested in finding out more about this opportunity, please visit the vacancies page on the RoSPA website or contact Izzy Albutt, Head of RoSPA’s Academy ( ).


Read More >


Press Release


As weather warms up, public urged to Respect the Water

June saw the most accidental water related fatalities last year alongside October, with 28 lives tragically lost during both months. This unusual pattern is causing experts concern as drownings usually peak in July & August, so people are being urged to Respect the Water this June to prevent last year’s rise becoming a longer-term trend.

As summer weather arrives across the UK, more people will be spending time enjoying the water, and although air temperatures are rising, water temperatures remain dangerously cold, with many people unaware of associated risks like Cold Water Shock. The National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) is reminding people to take responsibility for their own safety near water by learning about risks and knowing how to help themselves and other people in the event of a water-related emergency.

Sadly 236 people accidentally died in water related fatalities in 2023, in line with the five-year average of 243, but ten more than 2022. The are also 211 further cases where the cause is still unknown, so the number of accidental fatalities is likely to increase as additional information becomes available from coroners.

The 2023 Water Incident Database (WAID), which is maintained by the NWSF, show us that:

Inland waterways, continue to be the leading locations for accidental drowning, accounting for 63% of deaths in locations including rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs, and quarries.

Males continue to over represent with 83% of accidental fatalities.

Of the 236 accidental fatalities in the UK in 2023; 28 occurred in June, with 20 in July and 21 in August

Everyday activities like walking and running accounted for 48% of accidental fatalities.

Many of those who lost their lives were not intending to enter the water, 88 of the fatalities (37%) were walking or running before the accident.

Of those 236, 157 were in England; 47 in Scotland; 28 in Wales; 4 in Northern Ireland


#RespecttheWater is the partnership campaign run by the NWSF and provides simple life saving advice, to help people take personal responsibility for their own safety near water, with 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 to get help

Tell the struggling person to float on their back.

Throw them something that floats, such as a life ring, inflatable toy, or bottle


The Forum will be promoting the #RespectTheWater campaign throughout the summer including on World Drowning Prevention Day on 25th July.

Dawn Whittaker, NWSF Chair and National Fire Chiefs Council Lead for Drowning Prevention and Water Safety said:

These new figures give us a poignant reminder about the importance of raising awareness of water safety and drowning prevention. We will continue to 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.

It’s hard to predict what this summer will bring, but with the increased likelihood of extreme weather events like heatwaves and flooding, we will be promoting the #RespectTheWater campaign to help people stay safe while enjoying their time in and by the water.”

“Over the last few years, the number of people participating in water sports and water-based activities has risen as has the number of incidents associated with activities such as stand-up paddleboarding 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. 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 2023 report visit here.

For more information about the #RespectTheWater campaign visit


Read More >


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.






Read More >


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


Read More >


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 >
There are 51 items on 11 pages.

News Search

Newsletter sign up

Fill in your details below to sign up to our Water Safety newsletter:

Twitter feed