A campaign to promote water safety in both the swimming pool and the sea is running all this week in a bid to reduce the number of drowning deaths.
Drowning Prevention Week has been launched by the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) in partnership with Swim England and the RNLI, and it runs until June 25.
The three groups have been pooling resources to share their expertise and provide tips, while leisure centres and swimming pools around the country will be laying on events and challenges designed to raise awareness of water safety.
More than 700 people drown in the UK and Ireland every year – that's the equivalent of one drowning death every 20 hours.
The campaign aims to increase the number of children receiving water safety education, and reduce the number of drowning fatalities. Its key messages are:
Whenever you're by the water
- Stop and think – look for the dangers, always read the signs
- Stay together – never swim alone. Always go with friends or family
In an emergency
- Call 999 or 112 and shout for help
- Float – if you fall in, float or swim on your back. Throw something in that floats to anyone that falls in
In addition, Drowning Prevention Week has released the following tips and essential water safety messages to follow when on holiday or at home during the summer season.
- When researching your holiday, or arriving at your destination, check the safety arrangements of any water-based activities and if there is lifeguard cover at the pool or beach
- Check bathing sites for hazards, check the safest places to swim and always read the signs – find out what local warning signs and flags mean. Take time to check the depth, water flow and layout of pools
- Swim with any children in your care – it’s more fun and you can keep them close and safe
- On beaches check when the tide will be high and low and make sure that you won’t be cut off from the beach exit by the rising tide. Also, be aware of dangerous rip-currents
- Inflatables like dinghies or lilos are a well-known hazard – each year there are drownings as people on inflatables are blown out to sea. Do not use them in open water
- Do not swim near to or dive from rocks, piers, breakwater or coral
- Swim parallel to the beach and close to the shore
- Always use self-closing gates, fences and locks to prevent children from gaining access to pools of water
- Securely cover all water storage tanks and drains
- Empty paddling pools and buckets as soon as they have been used. Always turn paddling pools upside down once empty
- Always supervise bath time (never leave children unattended). Empty the bath as soon as possible after use
RLSS UK CEO Di Steer said: "Organisations like the RNLI and Swim England share our common goal; to keep people safe around water. This year we have decided to pool our expertise and resources to help ensure we have a consistent message that reaches the largest audience possible.
"We value the support of all the organisations that continue to be involved with our campaigns and hope you will make this year’s campaign bigger than ever. Together we can reduce the number of tragic drownings that devastate families every year."
The RNLI's head of community engagement, Gareth Morrison, added: "Taking place just before the school summer holidays, the campaign is a timely reminder of the need to be safe around water when we are out having fun in the sun."
You can also click the button below to read our top 10 tips on how to stay safe when swimming at the beach. This includes important information to help you understand beach flags, rip currents, tides, waves and what to do if someone needs rescuing.