A Call to Action in Drowning Prevention

Two years ago, on 21 May, I had the honour of meeting HRH the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, at the launch of the Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum’s collaborative drowning prevention strategy under the umbrella of the National Water Safety Forum, a group set up to tackle the national issue of water-related deaths and accidents.

At the time I wrote from my personal perspective

“Raising awareness of the danger of any body of water, however innocuous it looks, remains key to the objectives of any present and future strategy.

Every life lost to water is a life too many. 

Every life lost to water affects an immeasurable number of people”. 

Sadly, the latest figures from the Water Incident Database (WAID), which is maintained by the NWSF, show that there were 254 deaths in UK waters from accidental drownings in 2020 across inland and coastal locations; this is an increase of 34 from the previous year.

These accidental drownings form part of the total water-related fatalities in the UK which stands at 631 for 2020, an increase of 10 on the previous year.

For the first time, over 50 organisations are coming together to spread nationally, the key messages of water safety advice, as part of the #RespectTheWater campaign.  Everyone is asked to support and promote the campaign, ahead of what is likely to be a very populous, post lockdown, staycation summer, around our coasts and inland waterways.

Ever since my initial involvement with the RNLI, Fire and Rescue and associated organisations, I have had an appreciation for the commitment of the individuals working so hard to tackle this issue. My heart goes out to all involved in the light of the reported increase, despite all the efforts made to raise awareness. 

May I please urge everyone to flag the matter to themselves, their families and friends to play a part in the desired reduction in water related deaths. 

The aim of the National Water Safety Forum is to halve accidental drownings in the UK by 2026 – that is a mere five years away; this simply cannot happen without the input of everyone involved.  That means all of us!  Please look out for the messages, campaigns and media publicity, and highlight wherever you can, how vital it is to exercise the greatest caution around any body of water, be it large or small, still or tidal.

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