As the heatwave sweeping across the UK continues, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) fears that many people will head to waterways in a bid to cool off from the 30+ degrees reported to hit some regions this week.  

A 16-year-old boy tragically lost his life to drowning in Lancashire over the weekend and the charity is urging people to ensure enjoying the water is fun and not fatal. 

Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK said: "Every year during the summer we see a sharp rise in the number of accidental drownings in the UK as many people look to cool off on hot summer days like we are experiencing currently. I deeply regret to say we have already seen a number of drownings already in the past few weeks as the temperatures have soared. 

“It is vital to ensure that everyone has an understanding of water safety and makes it their responsibility to educate their family and friends on how water can be enjoyed safely to prevent such tragedies. In July 2021, there were 49 accidental drowning fatalities in the space of just two weeks in the UK. 

“We want to help families enjoy water safely with our summer water safety information. We truly believe that people can be equipped with the right knowledge around water safety, and as a result we won’t need to see the fatalities we currently are seeing with accidental drownings.” 

The Royal Life Saving Society UK has some simple and easy to follow tips on its website and social media channels to help keep families safe this summer, including their five summer water safety tips: 

  1. Look out for Lifeguards 
    If you’re looking for a place to cool off, always find a lifeguarded swimming site. 
  2. It’s colder than it looks 
    Water at open and inland sites is often much colder than it looks, cold water can affect your ability to swim and self-rescue. 
  3. Don’t go too far 
    Always swim parallel to the shore, that way you’re never too far away from it. 
  4. It’s stronger than it looks 
    Currents in the water can be very strong. If you find yourself caught in a current – don’t swim against it – you’ll tire yourself out. Stay calm, swim with the current and call for help. 
  5. Bring a friend 
    Always bring a friend when you go swimming so if anything goes wrong, you’ve got someone there to help. 

Lee continued: “We often see people trying to cool off in lakes, quarries, rivers and other waterways when we experience extremely warm weather like this week brings, and many of these people do not have the experience of swimming in these waters and that is where we see people getting into trouble. As a result we then see others trying to help those in difficulty by going into the water themselves to attempt a rescue which can have fatal consequences.  

“ If you or someone else finds themselves in difficulty in the water, it’s vital to remember the Water Safety Code: whenever you are around water you should stop and think to assess your surroundings and look for any dangers; stay together when around water and always go with family and friends; in an emergency call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue service when inland and the Coastguard if at the coast; and finally float to live, if you fall in or become tired, stay calm, float on your back and call for help, or if you see someone in the water, throw something that floats to them and resist temptation to go in.”