This Father’s Day, Charity Director at the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) spoke to us about the importance of Drowning Prevention Week from a parent’s perspective, read what Lee has to say below:

“Being a father of two lovely, flourishing children and the Charity Director of a water safety organisation that focuses predominantly on the education of children, I feel privileged and uniquely placed to keep them safe around the water. More importantly, I’m able to provide them with the confidence and knowledge to make sensible decisions that mean they can benefit from all of the physical and mental benefits associated with the water.

I do, however, regularly come across devastating turmoil, especially at this time of the year as 42% of accidental drownings occur during June, July and August. There are too many families that have had to deal with the sudden loss of a loved one, during what is usually perceived as harmless fun or leisure.

The distressing fact is that drowning in the main is largely preventable. I am extremely fortunate to be around this subject every day so I’m well-equipped to pass on knowledge. But, there are many families that don’t have a comparable level of understanding and wouldn’t naturally hold the same level of esteem for the information.

Education, understanding and supervision are factors that all help. There is too often a misconception of one's ability to swim. In our analysis of 240 cases of accidental drowning fatalities, we’ve seen that 49% of those who lost their lives were swimmers. This demonstrates that being able to swim alone isn’t a guarantee of being able to stay safe in all types of water. We all mainly learn to swim in a heated, safe, regulated swimming pool. In simple form, swimming skills learned in a swimming pool rarely translate to cold, open and flowing water unless well practiced in these environments. We therefore need to enhance our understanding of risk.

The skills needed are basic and can be communicated without even getting into the water so to all loving parents out there I beg you to spend time with your children this Drowning Prevention Week (17 - 24 June) to have the ‘Water Safety Conversation’. A few moments that could stick with them in their time of greatest need.

The Water Safety Code is a simple tool to help you translate this key information to children.

Water Safety Code

For younger children, we have launched a brand new animation that you can show your children to help them understand the water safety code. 

Here are some personal tips from me about how best to approach this discussion across.

  • Water is fun, so make it fun. Children need to understand risk, but they need to also understand how to interact safely.
  • If you go to the beach, head to the lifeguard station and explain to your children what the beach flags mean and what lifeguards are there to do.
  • During family swim time, teach basic floating techniques. A fundamental skill to keep above the water if tired or overwhelmed - Teaching your children basic water safety skills
  • If you’re around water and you see rescue equipment, take some time to talk to children about its use and purpose.
  • Use the amazing resources on our website - Parents Resources
  • Discourage activities that take them away from the bank/shoreline. Staying close to the side makes rescue and self-rescue much more likely.
  • Explain the importance of supervision, lifeguards are best but if they decide to enter the water where there are no lifeguards then make sure someone is on the side to help and rescue and call 999.
  • Peer pressure in mid-teens is a known contributor to encouraging risk-taking behaviour but it is also a factor to encourage good behaviour. Explain the risk of entering cold open water and promote your own child to be the brave one, staying out of the water and being the positive influence on their peers.
  • Enhancing their swimming ability, learning practical water safety skills and even better joining a club or outdoor provider that will support the practice of swimming in cold open water will build knowledge and resilience.

If we all do our bit by checking in with our children’s intentions on the day and taking a few moments to mention water safety, then we cross all of our fingers that we can prevent any unnecessary loss of life this summer.”