Around 320 people drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. Evidence shows that 44% of drowning fatalities happen to people who had no intention of entering the water. This is a stark reminder that it isn’t just traditional water users who get into danger.

Top water safety tips

Stay safe around water. Always remember:

  1. Don’t go into the water if someone else is in trouble – call 999 and ask for the Fire Service if inland or if at the coast ask for the Coast Guard.
  2. Never drink alcohol and then go for a swim or attempt to jump into water.
  3. Avoid walking/running near water on your own or late at night – it’s easier than you think to slip and fall in.

Float to live

  1. Take a minute. The initial effects of cold water pass in less than a minute – don’t try to swim straight away.
  2. Relax and float on your back to catch your breath.
  3. Try to get hold of something that will help you float.
  4. Keep calm then call for help or swim to safety if you are able.

What do I do if I see someone in the water?

If you go into the water to rescue people, pets or belongings, you could be putting yourself at risk as well.

If you do see someone in the water, there are steps you can take to help them:

  1. Dial 999 and ask for the Fire Service
  2. If you don’t have a mobile phone, shout to raise the alarm, or go and get help.
  3. Try to give an exact location of where you are. Look around for any landmarks or signs; for example bridges will often have numbers on them which can identify their position. Use What3Words to give an accurate position.
  4. If a person is in trouble, keep talking to them, encourage them to stay calm and float on their back.
  5. Keep your eyes on the spot where you last saw them so you can tell the emergency services when they arrive.
  6. If there is life saving equipment such as a lifebuoy or a throwline nearby throw it to them. If not, throw anything that will float.

Do you own or work in a business located near water? Would you like to take part in the free RNLI Waterside Responder scheme?

The RNLI Waterside Responder scheme provides specialist training to hospitality staff, security staff and waterside community members to help prevent drowning around rivers and waterways across the UK and Ireland.

During the session, we will train your teams how to:

  • use a throw bag to help rescue somebody in the water
  • provide safety advice to people using waterside areas
  • understand the risks of the waterside near your venue


To find out more email

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