Drowning Prevention Week is the national campaign of the Royal Life Saving Society UK (the UK’s drowning prevention charity), which aims to cut down the number of drowning incidents in the UK by promoting water safety on mass. It also aims to raise money for the RLSS UK’s drowning prevention projects and to support families who have been affected by drowning or near drowning.

  • One person dies from drowning every 20 hours in the UK

  • Drowning is the 3rd highest cause of accidental death of children in the UK

  • More than half of the drownings recorded (227) last year were in inland waters, such as tidal and freshwater rivers, lakes and reservoirs

  • Fatalities at the sea, on the beach or shoreline account for nearly a third of annual drowning statistics

  • In 2014 there were 260 deaths in England – 53 of them in the South West

RLSS UK Chief Executive Di Steer said: “The number of accidental drowning incidences has, over the last few years, reached a plateau of around 400. There is no quick fix to get this number down further. There are many at-risk groups for many different reasons. Education to instill a change in behaviour is considered the only method that will reach the final 400, as well as future generations, and help prevent these tragic deaths and accidents.”

Wendy is a Sailing Instructor and Principal of Start Point Sailing, an RYA Sea School offering both Professional and Leisure Qualifications from Marinas including Sutton Harbour, and recently ran our Ladies Day Sailing Classes. She believes that wearing a lifejacket or buoyancy aid is an essential part of staying safe whilst taking part in your fun boating activity.  Wendy said; “It is astonishing how many people I see whilst afloat, on all sorts of vessels including paddleboards, canoes, ribs, inflatable dinghies and cruising yachts, who are not themselves wearing lifejackets or buoyancy aids or failing to supply their children with this aid to survival.  Whether it is through confidence or ignorance this is a dangerous game to play.  If you are unlucky enough to end up in the drink without a lifejacket or buoyancy aid on you are reducing your chance of survival by a huge margin in our deep, cold waters.  Add swell, wind, spray, a knock on the head, shock and the onset of hypothermia to the mix and your ability to stay afloat will be further reduced, and possibly tragic. 

Wearing a lifejacket these days is so unobtrusive with designs for all types of inshore and offshore boating activities.  Unlike buoyancy aids, lifejackets are designed to keep your head above water whether conscious or not, and for offshore activities there are further lifesaving options including sprayhoods limiting the inhalation of sea water spray, Personal Location Beacons (PLBs) and flashing lights aiding location, harness points enabling the wearer to fit a harness and stay clipped onto the vessel and hydrostatic release functions … whatever your chosen activity, why on earth take this risk when you can protect yourself and reduce your probability of drowning so immensely?”

The following acronym is one recommended by The Royal Lifesaving Society to help prevent and make aware of the dangers of drowning.


SAFE code

 Spot - Spot the dangers


Check for hazards such as currents or deep water

Consider what could be hidden under the water

Be careful of unsafe banks, stay well back from the edge


Advice – Take advice

Always read the signs

Only swim where there is a lifeguard

Wear buoyancy aids and life jackets


Friend – Go with a friend

Always swim with friends or family

Friends can get help

Never swim alone


Emergency – Know what to do in an emergency

Find the nearest phone and call 999

Shout loudly to attract attention

Never enter the water to save someone