The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) has launched a brand-new animation which focuses on the Water Safety Code as part of its annual Drowning Prevention Week campaign which runs 17-24 June.

Since 1891 the national charity has been sharing their expertise in water safety, lifesaving, and lifeguarding to educate everyone to enjoy water safely. Drowning Prevention Week is now in its 10th year and continues to help educate school aged children on how they can enjoy water safely and prevent any future drownings.

The charity conducted research with parents in the UK which showed that only around one in six UK adults were familiar with the Water Safety Code and its aims, and one in four parents haven’t or don’t remember ever discussing water safety with their child(ren). 

In 2022, we tragically saw 37 people aged 19 and under die from accidental drowning in the UK, and RLSS UK hopes that their new animation will provide parents with a starting point to have conversations with their children around water safety.

The animation walks through the water safety code which is the fundamental spine of all water safety education. It is designed to provide simple and easy to remember information that acts as both a proactive measure to help educate people to make early, critical decisions, and also to help people understand what they should do in an emergency.

The code focuses on four simple points:

STOP AND THINK: take time to assess your surrounds. Look for the dangers and always research local signs and advice.

STAY TOGETHER: when around water always go with friends or family. Swim at a lifeguarded venue.


CALL 999: ask for the Fire and Rescue Service when inland and the Coastguard if at the coast. Don’t enter the water to rescue.

FLOAT: fall in or become tired – stay calm, float on your back and call for help. Throw something that floats to somebody that has fallen in.

Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK said, “We hope that our new animation provides families with a resource to start those conversations around how everyone, including children, can stay safe in and around water. We want families to be able to enjoy the water but do this in a safe way by recognising any potential dangers, and also knowing what to do if they or someone else finds themselves in difficulty.

“The animation will also form part of our education resources that we have once again made available to primary and secondary schools in the UK and Ireland. Last year over 341,000 school children were educated in water safety using our free downloadable school resources and this year we hope to educate even more children.”

The charity provides educational resources for schools to allow them to integrate them easily into their curriculum to provide opportunities for all children to have the vital skills and knowledge around how to enjoy water safely.

RLSS UK are also working with their Patron Lord Storey as in June last year he put in a Water Safety Education (Curriculum) Bill, which went through its second reading in the House of Lords in May of this year. If approved, the Bill will mean that more water safety education will be a compulsory part of the curriculum, something RLSS UK has been lobbying towards for many years.

Lee continued, “Although swimming and water safety are included on the PE curriculum for England there are inequalities in reality that means many children do not have access to the water safety education that is so vital.

“Pre-COVID, almost 1 in 4 children were not hitting the statutory ‘can self-rescue’ standard. Worryingly there is huge disparity between high and low affluence households, as well as between different ethnic backgrounds, with those from the lowest affluence and those from ethnic minorities most likely to fail to reach the statutory standards.

“The work that RLSS UK does, in providing resources such as the animation and other school resources, as well as lobbying government to include water safety education on the curriculum, shows that we are committed to ensuring that there is equality when teaching water safety education to children in the UK and Ireland.”

View the water safety code animation