Calling all leisure operators: support RLSS UK's Drowning Prevention Week 2024 (15-22 June) and help us combat the concerning increase in child drownings.  

Entering its second decade, Drowning Prevention Week (DPW) is our most significant campaign of the year. It targets families, carers, teachers, and instructors and teaches essential water safety skills to children aged five to 15.  

Why should operators support Drowning Prevention Week? 

During last year’s campaign, we supported leisure operators and schools in educating an unprecedented 1.85million+ children in water safety across the UK and Ireland.  

With your help, we can achieve even more this year. We are calling for pool operators, aquatics providers, and swim schools to extend the reach of water safety education and prevent these tragic accidents. 

The latest data from the National Child Mortality Database recorded evidence of an increase in child drowning deaths in England from 20 in 2019/20 to 37 in 2021/22. Shockingly, 83% of these incidents occurred when children were unsupervised by adults, showing the value of a safe, lifeguarded environment enabling children to enjoy water safely. Co-authored by RLSS UK, the statistics also highlighted that the risk of drowning was 3.5x higher for children of black ethnicity than white. The risk of drowning was also twice as high for youngsters from deprived areas than those living in less deprived areas.  

Leisure operators are critical in delivering water safety knowledge to youngsters from all walks of life. The impact demonstrated by operators like Parkwood Leisure, which ran 87,000 lessons alone last year, and GLL, which educated over 200,000 children with water safety during learn to swim lessons as part of its substantial support for last year’s campaign, showcases the industry’s collective immense influence. We urge more pool and aquatic providers to join our campaign this year and help reverse the reported increase in child drownings. 

Running from 15 to 22 June, the campaign educates children and those supervising them ahead of summer school holidays, when children spend more time outdoors— 3 in 4 (75%) of teenage drowning deaths occur in the summer1. We are delighted to welcome Freedom Leisure and Fusion Lifestyle, which is joining our Drowning Prevention Week for the first time this year. 

Hannah Smith, National Aquatic Business Manager at Freedom Leisure, says: "Freedom Leisure is thrilled to support RLSS UK's Drowning Prevention Week 2024. Drowning is preventable, yet in 2022, over three hundred people across the UK and Ireland lost their lives to drowning. We firmly believe that nobody should drown, and as such, we're passionate about educating our customers and local communities about water safety and giving people the essential skills they need to keep themselves and their families safe in and around water." 

Leading up to and during Drowning Prevention Week 2024, Freedom Leisure's Learn to Swim teams from its seventy swimming pools across England and Wales are planning a range of outreach work, visiting local schools and groups to talk about water safety and encourage more people to sign up to swimming lessons.  

"We're planning an exciting week full of themed safety lessons in our pools, which will teach vital safety skills to the 62,000 children and adults participating in Freedom Leisure swimming lessons every week. We'll use Drowning Prevention Week 2024 to raise awareness about the importance of keeping safe, particularly as we head into summer when children and adults spend more time outside and around water," Hannah added. 

How can operators get involved in Drowning Prevention Week? 

Operators can get involved in various ways, from integrating water safety skills into swimming lessons and hosting workshops to visiting local schools and offering Rookie Lifeguard taster sessions. To support these efforts, we provide free-to-download resources, including stickers, flags, posters, flashcards, lesson plans, and certificates. 

Join RLSS UK's Drowning Prevention Week 2024 and make a real difference in preventing child drownings. 

Sign up to access free educational resources for Drowning Prevention Week 2024 here.