Water safety

Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death in the UK and we work with partner agencies to keep everyone safe around water.

When you’re around water, it’s important to remember - #MatesMatter

During spells of warm weather, there are those who will put themselves in danger by cooling off in rivers, lakes, reservoirs and marinas, but remember – outdoor swimming can have fatal consequences.

Drownings can happen quickly and without warning and can have a devastating impact.

To ensure you enjoy yourself safely, think about your friends around water – #MatesMatter

Follow these simple steps to stay safe around water:

  • If someone falls into deep water, call 999. If you are near the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland ask for the fire service and ambulance.
  • Never enter the water to try and save someone. This usually ends up adding to the problem. If you go into the water you are likely to suffer from cold water shock, which will leave you unable to help.
  • In an emergency, look around for any lifesaving equipment. Depending on where you are, there might be lifebelts or throw bags – use them. If there is no lifesaving equipment, look at what else you can use. There may be something that can help them stay afloat – even an item such as a ball can help.
  • You could attempt to reach out to someone struggling in water. Clothes such as scarves, or long sticks could be used. If you do this, lie on the ground so your entire body is safely on the edge and reach out with your arm. Don’t stand up or lean over the water.
  • If you manage to get the person out of the water, they will always need medical attention. Even if they seem fine, drowning can occur at a later stage if water has already entered the lungs.
  • When fishing, check that the spot you have chosen is safe. Remember that riverbanks can erode, so let someone know where you are going and have a fully charged phone.
  • Avoid throwing sticks or balls near water for dogs and never enter the water to try and save a dog. Dogs usually manage to scramble out by themselves.
  • Remember that alcohol reduces inhibitions and can mean you take more risks. If you fall into water after drinking, your chances of being able to get out of the water are decreased due to alcohol’s impairment of simple movements.

Stay safe around water.


Float to live

What to do if you fall in the water - Float to live - RNLI

Everyone who falls unexpectedly into cold water instinctively reacts through panic and tries to swim hard to reach safety. However, your best chance of staying safe is to fight this instinct and float to live.

Lie back and keep your airways clear, push your stomach up and extend your limbs moving hands and feet to help you float.

Try to take and control the effects of cold water shock such as the gasping reflex. Once your breathing is controlled, call for help and if possible try making your way towards safety.

If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, fight your instincts and float to live.