With around 12 million people planning a winter break the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is urging holidaymakers not to forget the dangers of water.

Up to 75 people from the UK drown every year while on holiday, according to the drowning prevention charity.

Yet only six percent of travelers quizzed said it was a “big priority” to know whether their hotel pool had a lifeguard when booking.

RLSS UK has teamed up with travel association ABTA to highlight the importance of water safety and produced a checklist to help holidaymakers stay safe.

People are advised not to overestimate their fitness and ability and to remember that swimming in the sea is very different to being in a pool. It is also extremely important to keep a constant eye on children and never drink alcohol and then enter the water.


Sun seekers are also advised to check the safest places to take a dip and whether pools and beaches have lifeguard cover.

RLSS UK Chief Executive Di Steer said: “Every year people drown on holiday and accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.

“But tragic deaths can be prevented by following our simple advice.

“As well as researching the best places to enjoy some winter sun we’re encouraging holidaymakers to spend a bit of time making sure they know how to keep themselves and their families safe.

“That way they can ensure their winter holiday is one to remember for all the right reasons.”

Nikki White, ABTA’s Head of Destinations and Sustainability, added: “Twelve million people will take a winter holiday over the coming months and winter sun is still the most popular choice of activities.

“Spending time in the water will be a big part of these holidays but knowing your ability and what to do to keep safe is vital.

“That’s why we are reminding people to swim safe and follow safety advice before taking to the water, whatever time of year.

“Simple steps can save lives and help keep the water fun for everyone.”

Kirsty Forbes, from Aberdeenshire, knows just how important it is. Her three-year-old son Rory almost drowned on holiday in May last year.

She and her husband Andrew discovered the tot’s lifeless body floating in the pool of their Florida villa.

The mother of three, who now works with RLSS UK to raise awareness of water safety, explained: “I had only been inside the villa for two minutes when I shouted to Andrew and asked him if he was with Rory.

“He thought he’d followed me inside.

“I ran out and we realised Rory was in the water. His body was lifeless and he wasn’t breathing.”

Luckily Kirsty, a physiotherapist, knew CPR and first aid – skills which saved her son’s life.

“I want to share our story so that people realise how easy it is for someone to drown, especially a child,” Kirsty added.

Top Holiday Water Safety Tips:

  • When researching your holiday, check the safety arrangements of any water-based activities.
  • When booking check if the pool/beach has lifeguard cover. Not all water sites have supervision at all times – shockingly 60 percent of people have never researched whether the hotel pool was lifeguarded and only six percent of people said it was a big priority to know whether the hotel pool was lifeguarded when booking a holiday**
  • Check bathing sites for hazards, check the safest places to swim and always read the signs – find out what local warning signs and flags mean
  • Make sure the whole family can swim and know what to do in an emergency
  • Swim with any children in your care – it’s more fun and you can keep them close and safe
  • Follow the pool rules
  • Take time to check the depth, water flow and layout of pools
  • Never enter the water after drinking alcohol
  • On beaches check when the tide will be high and low and make sure that you won’t be cut off from the beach exit by the rising tide
  • Inflatable dinghies or lilos are a well-known hazard – each year there are drownings as people on inflatables are blown out to sea. Do not use them in open water
  • Do not swim near to or dive from rocks, piers, breakwater or coral
  • Swim parallel to the beach and close to the shore
  • Never swim alone

Also, be aware that many holiday accidents occur in the first or last hour at a resort, when parents are most likely to be distracted.

In addition to the above tips, ensure 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