Published 17 November 2014

Today the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that a shocking 372,000 lives are lost to drowning each year across the world. The UK’s drowning prevention charity – The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) welcomes the report and for acknowledging this very important issue on the global health agenda and supports the recommendations within the report for improved collation of data and global partnerships.

The WHO estimates 372,000 lives are lost each year to drowning. That’s more than 1,000 people every day, or 40 every hour. More than 90% of these losses happen in low- and middle-income countries. The WHO data is the best available but, with drowning deaths going unreported in many countries, the picture is incomplete, and the actual number of deaths is likely to be much higher. To understand the true scale of the issue, more information is needed and better recording of data is vital.

Despite its epidemic proportions, and even though it’s a major blocker to some countries reducing child mortality, drowning has never been a priority issue on the international agenda. The charity welcomes this important report from the WHO for bringing attention to this issue, which has gone largely unnoticed for so long, and for calling to action those who are in a position to do something about it.

The tragedy of the situation is that drowning is largely preventable and, what’s more, the solutions are relatively simple and inexpensive.

Around 400 people drown in the UK every year and the RLSS UK aims to prevent drowning through water safety education.

RLSS UK is the UK’s leading provider of training and education in lifesaving, lifeguarding, water safety and life support skills in the UK. It is also the governing body for Lifesaving Sport.

Through its trading subsidiary, IQL UK, there are more than 90,000 RLSS UK Pool Lifeguards in the UK trained in the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ). Around 95 per cent of all pool lifeguards are trained by the RLSS UK.

RLSS UK awards and programmes teach a range of lifesaving skills ranging from life support (CPR) to water survival and rescue skills. Programmes include Rookie Lifeguard (for eight to12-year–olds), Survive and Save (for 12 years+) and Save a Baby’s Life (a free course aimed at parents and carers of young children).

The RLSS UK (then the Life Saving Society) was formed in 1891. In 1904, as there was great support for the organisation from the Royal Family, the society was granted permission to use the Royal title and became the Royal Life Saving Society.