Lee Heard, Charity Director on Drowning Prevention Week 2022

"As we reach the end of Royal Life Saving Society UK’s 9th annual Drowning Prevention Week campaign, I wanted to say a huge thank you to all our members, staff, supporters, and strategic partners who have played a role in sharing our vital water safety messaging this year. 

I cannot communicate how grateful we are for the support. 

Since January I have been calling for a concerted effort to give everyone the skills to enjoy water safely this summer. It’s a message that requires everyone to roll up their sleeves and find ways to get this vital message out into their communities. It takes individuals, small and large organisations, water safety partners, leisure partners, local authorities, MPs, emergency services, schools, landowners, water companies and many more. We are exceptionally proud of everybody that has taken the time to make our vital campaign grow again this year.  

This year we aimed to take a slightly different approach to our national media campaign, doing the hard yards to better understand the claims that are often made about water safety and drowning prevention. We aimed to shine a light on the importance of swimming but further explore the need for parents to invest additional time in themselves and their family understanding water safety. This is a conversation we are aiming to continue and explore further. We also focused on bringing the issue of cold water to the front, backing up it with a deep dive into fatalities leading from cold water. It is important that we continue to highlight this critical factor in drowning and leverage our tools to educate the public. We were delighted to move this conversation on, using our professional expertise. 

The Royal Life Saving Society UK’s mission for Drowning Prevention Week is to help everybody across the UK and Ireland, enjoy water safely.  With this in mind, this year we launched our brand-new animation, to encourage children to learn more about water safety.  We’ve seen a fantastic response to the 60-second animation, with high engagement, with so far 700+ shares, meaning it has appeared over 173k times across social media networks. The animation directs children and parents to our FREE educational resources and this year, we’ve already exceeded the number of downloads during Drowning Prevention Week in 2021 and the estimated number of children to be taught is already over 300k, 15%+ ahead of last year’s total.  

We have worked with National and local news agencies to support the delivery of 129 Drowning Prevention Week press articles and 139 radio and TV broadcasts, to raise awareness of the importance of water safety.  We have attended parliament with Olympian Professor Greg Whyte OBE, Paralympian Ellie Robinson MBE, and over 50 other Parliamentarians to discuss the importance of spreading water safety awareness, as well as what practical steps could be taken in their constituencies to address the issue. 

There have been over 3,500 social media posts relating to #DrowningPreventionWeek, reflecting the fantastic engagement generated by the campaign.  We have been able to draw on our recent survey and analysis to encourage discussion on Twitter around important water safety debates, for example ‘Is Swimming Enough?’ acknowledged by English former competitive swimmer, Sharron Davies as ‘a great thread’ and Lifesaving clubs, such as @KingAlfredLSC to emphasise the importance of specific water safety training.  Our other messages have shown resonance with victims’ families, such as River & Sea Sense, who tweeted that their son lost his life despite being a good swimmer, in response to our tweet showing that 61% of children who accidentally drowned aged 8-18 were swimmers.  In addition, “Is cold water a significant factor in open water fatalities?”, was re-tweeted by @sewateruk to emphasise why they have taken the decision to not allow swimming in their reservoirs. 

At Royal Life Saving Society UK, our aim is to ensure as many people as possible are safe in the knowledge that they, and their children, have the skills and understanding about water safety to keep them safe.  Now that Drowning Prevention Week is over for another year, we will continue to work hard to raise awareness of water safety, including sharing more details on this years’ survey results and analysis in a forthcoming report. 

Water safety campaigns continue throughout the year and the next version comes direct from the National Water Safety Forum and partners for World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July 2025. An initiative being supported around the globe and we urge everyone to get behind this campaign to continue to raise awareness of water safety."