Runners and walkers need to know how to stay safe near bodies of water as they are most at risk of accidental drowning.

Each year on average over 106 people a year lose their life to drowning as a result of running or walking near water and figures show on average around 55 per cent of all drowning victims were running or walking* and never intended on being in the water.

Robert Gofton, RLSS UK Chief Executive, said: “If you are running or walking next to bodies of water, this could be keeping fit, walking the dog, a family walk or a journey home from the pub or a night out, be aware of your surroundings and please be extra vigilant and stay well clear of bank edges. These are often unstable, and this can create slips, trips and falls and always let someone know where you are going.

“We would ask people to follow our simple advice to help ensure they and their families stay safe.”

Top Water Safety Tips for running or walking near open water

  • 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
  • If you are running or walking early in the morning or late at night make sure you stay to well-lit, high traffic areas
  • Know how to perform basic survival skills - Click here to access our Water Safety Toolkit 
  • If you fall into the water.  Stay calm, float on your back and call for help​

Bystander rescue when running or walking

If you are out running or walking and you spot someone in danger, you could play a critical role in saving their life.

  • Always raise an alarm with the emergency services and bystanders before you attempt to help
  • Never enter the water to rescue - Your personal safety, in any situation is the number one priority 
  • Never go into the water to rescue a dog, in nearly all cases dogs will be able to get out, don’t put yourself at risk
  • Take a mobile phone with, if you see somebody in trouble in the water -  call 999. Ask for the Fire and Rescue Service when inland and the Coastguard if at the coast. 
  • Know how to perform CPR and learn some basic lifesaving skills


In the UK tides are relatively regular and predictable, yet despite this fact every year several people are caught out by rapidly rising water and end up being trapped in isolated bays. If you intend to venture across any beach or bank affected by tidal water, make sure you know when the incoming tide is expected and know where all the exits are.

*5-year average based on figures taken from the Water Incident and Accident Database (WAID)

​Water Safety Toolkit 

Our short, free, online toolkit will allow you the opportunity to discover the skills you need to enjoy the water, safely.

Click here to access our Water Safety Toolkit 

Basic water skills can be life-changing. Not only will this toolkit give you the skills and confidence to enjoy being around the water, safely, but you could also, one day save somebody's life. ​

​Remember, that we want you to enjoy the water and all its benefits, but, as it does come with risks, it is crucial to understand and manage these. Once you’ve completed this toolkit, you will feel much more confident to enjoy the water and change lives.