The UK’s drowning prevention charity is warning those that walk or run near water to be aware of potential risks, as this group accounts for the second largest proportion of UK drownings.

With days now longer and weather finer, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) says more people are likely to go out and exercise or enjoy a walk, and it is important that those who choose routes near open water are aware of potential dangers.

Statistics released from the Water Accident and Incident Database (WAID) show that 54 people drowned whilst out running or walking in 2012*. This made up 15 per cent of the 371 total drownings which occurred. The highest category showed 110 people drowned but the reason for them being in the water was unknown.

Reasons runners and walkers are at risk of drowning is due to the nature of routes often taken, combined with the fact that these activities are often done alone.

RLSS UK Director of Lifesaving, Adrian Lole said: “We are urging people to seriously consider water safety when out and about as some of these deaths would have been preventable.

“Everyone enjoys making the most of the nicer weather and running and walking at this time of year are fantastic ways of doing that as well as to keep fit or train for a challenge such as a marathon.

“Sadly, in some cases activities such as this have resulted in lives being lost. By being aware of possible risks and simple steps that can be taken, people could potentially save their own lives or those of others.”

The top three locations where people have accidentally drowned while running or walking were coasts, 19, rivers, 12, and streams/ditches, 7. Canals, harbours, lakes/ponds, reservoirs and water container completed the total.

Top 5 Water Safety Tips near open water –

  • Be aware of your surroundings and take notice of any warning signs when out and about
  • When running or walking next to open water, stay well clear of bank edges. They are often unstable and this can create slips, trips and falls
  • Try to always walk or run with a friend
  • Always let someone know where you’re going – take your mobile phone
  • Learn swimming and lifesaving skills

In addition to the above tips, ensure that you and your family know the SAFE code –

  • Spot – spot the dangers
  • Advice – follow safety signs and advice
  • Friend – stay close to a friend or family member
  • Emergency – shout for help and call 999 or 112