Our website uses cookies so that we can provide a better service. Continue to use the site as normal if you're happy with this, or find out how to manage cookies.


Charity warns there could be a steep increase in accidental drownings

Royal Life Saving Society UK Press Release

A rise in drowning figures has prompted the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) to encourage parents to teach their children how to stay safe and enjoy water safely this summer, as part of its national Drowning Prevention Week campaign, 19-26 June 2021.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, millions of children have missed out on vital swimming, lifesaving skills and water safety education during the pandemic due to pool closures, leaving a dramatic gap in school swimming and water safety education.

Young people from low incomes and ethnic minority communities have been the hardest hit. A staggering 95 per cent of black adults and 80 per cent of black children do not swim, and this gap has widened still further as a result of Covid-19.

Accidental drowning takes an average of 402 UK and Irish citizens each year, and the Royal Life Saving Society UK fears that with lockdown restrictions lifting and staycations on the up, families will flock to inland water locations and beaches this summer, without the right knowledge and skills, putting themselves and others at risk.

Fourteen-year-old Teya Davies tragically died after slipping into Sniggy Pond in Widnes, trying to help her friend who had fallen into the water before her. Teya’s story is not a ‘one off’- it’s one of many, so RLSS UK has teamed up with Teya’s friends and family to create a powerful video highlighting the importance of water safety, in Teya’s honour.

Teya’s friend, Liv Eren said: “We sadly lost our friend, Teya, at the age of 14. When looking back on Teya’s story, we now know how preventable her death could have been if only she

knew how to swim, or to keep herself safe in the water. We are pleased to do our bit to prevent others from going through the heartache of losing a friend like we have."

RLSS UK’s Charity Director Lee Heard, said: “We are surrounded by opportunities to be in or near water. Whatever their age and activity level, everyone should be having fun, creating memories and feeling at ease around the water. The inequality in access to swimming and water safety education, and subsequent lack of potential interaction with the water is a big concern.

“RLSS UK believes that through free, accessible education and training, everyone can enjoy water safely, have fun in the water and develop an essential life skill. We urge as many parents and carers as possible to get involved with the campaign, use our free online resources, and give children the skills to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water. “

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “We want every primary school pupil to learn to swim and to have water safety lessons, not just because it can improve their physical health but also because it is an important life skill.

“The Royal Life Saving Society UK’s work in raising awareness about the importance of water safety is very welcome, adding to the work we continue to do with schools to promote water safety and swimming.

We must do all we can to eliminate the tragedy of children drowning.”

Notes to Editors:

As part of its national Drowning Prevention Week campaign, 19-26 June 2021, RLSS UK is urging parents and carers to make sure their children know about water safety, so all children have the equal opportunity to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water.

Statistics (based on five-year average totals) show*:

  • Over 55% of parents surveyed said they would not be confident their child would know what to do if they fell into open water
  • 1 in 3 of those surveyed said their swimming abilities limited the activities they could do
  • Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children and the risk of drowning increases from the age of 15
  • More than 46% never intended to be in water
  • 62.4% of accidental drowning happen in inland water
  • Over 80% of those who drown accidently, are male

Drowning Prevention Week aims to equip everybody across the UK and Ireland with the skills and knowledge, to make the right decisions about water safety.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK believes that drowning is preventable and that even one drowning is one too many. The Charity has produced a range of free water safety advice, resources and online lessons to help parents, schools, leisure centres and other organisations to teach water safety to children.

This year for Drowning Prevention Week, RLSS UK has launched two compelling videos featuring families and friends who’ve experienced personal tragedy, and highlight the importance of this water safety awareness.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is the Drowning Prevention Charity. Over 400 people accidentally drown in the UK every year and the RLSS UK aims to prevent drowning through water safety education.

The RLSS UK (then the Life Saving Society) was formed in 1891. In 1904, as there was great support for the organisation from the Royal Family, the society was granted permission to use the Royal title and became the Royal Life Saving Society.

Through its trading subsidiary, IQL UK, there are more than 80,000 RLSS UK Pool Lifeguards in the UK trained in the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ). Around 95 per cent of all pool lifeguards are trained by the RLSS UK.

RLSS UK awards and programmes teach a range of lifesaving skills ranging from life support (CPR) to water survival and rescue skills. Programmes include Rookie Lifeguard, Survive and Save and Save a Baby’s Life (a free course aimed at parents and carers of young children).

*Five-year statistics taken from The National Water Safety Forums Water Incident Database (WAID) https://www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/waid/ and drowning statistics from Irish Water Safety

For more information on Drowning Prevention Week: please contact our media team on 0300 323 0096 option 8. We have a portfolio of human-interest stories and spokespeople ready to talk about the positive benefits of the water, and the impact of a lack of water safety education.

For general campaign background:

Visit our website at https://www.rlss.org.uk/pages/category/drowning-prevention-week-2021

Follow us on Twitter - @RLSSUK

Visit our Facebook page - facebook.com/RLSSUK

Call – 0300 323 0096