RNLI marks the first ever World Drowning Prevention Day

Lifeguards News Release

The RNLI is urging people to stay safe and follow safety advice on World Drowning Prevention Day

RNLI lifeguard at Bournemouth beach


RNLI lifeguard at Bournemouth beach

The RNLI is encouraging people to take action to stay as the warm weather continues and thousands flock to the coast on World Drowning Prevention Day. With the summer holidays well underway, the RNLI is expecting even more people at the beach and coast over the next few weeks.

The RNLI is reminding people to visit lifeguarded beaches, float to live if you get into difficulty and call 999 and ask for the coastguard in an emergency. Drowning has taken 2.5 million lives around the world in the last decade and most of those deaths were largely preventable. As the RNLI celebrates the first ever World Drowning Prevention Day, it’s calling for people to follow safety advice and know what to do in an emergency so that it can fulfil its commitment to help save even more lives to drowning.

Following the RNLI’s safety advice was incredibly important to Evan, who was 16 when he got in trouble in the water at Beadnell Bay, Northumberland. Evan and his friends had just finished their exams. In need of a break, they decided to go to the water and blow off some steam.

The waves were too choppy to take out their kayak – so they went for a swim to make the most of the big surf. But under the surface, currents can be deceptive.

A huge wave rose over the group. By the time Evan’s friends had jumped through it to the other side, Evan hadn’t been able to take the first step. He was left behind, caught in a rip current.

Watching from the shore, and realising Evan couldn’t get out, his dad made an emergency 999 call to the Coastguard for assistance.

Thankfully, Evan had seen the Float to Live video and knew he had to stay calm and float. A nearby surfer helped keep him alert until the RNLI arrived on scene. They brought him back to safety at the shore, where Evan made a full recovery.

Evan said: “On World Drowning Prevention Day, I’d encourage everyone to follow the RNLI's safety advice so they can reduce their risk of drowning. Learning how to float to live just in case you ever end up in trouble in the water like I did might just save your life one day.”

Gareth Morrison, Head of Water Safety at the RNLI said: “As we mark World Drowning Prevention Day, it’s important to remind everyone heading to the beach or coast this weekend to Respect the Water, by understanding how to stay safe and know what to do in an emergency. Three important pieces of advice are to visit lifeguarded beaches, float to live if you get into difficulty and call 999 Coastguard in an emergency.

“World Drowning Prevention Day reminds us all how important it is to think about safety when being around water. 650 people drown worldwide every day, that is one life lost to drowning every two minutes which is really shocking, especially as most are preventable.

“Our dedicated lifeboat crew, lifeguards and water safety teams work so hard to keep people safe across the UK and Ireland. We’d like to thank all our lifesavers, both here and further afield on World Drowning Prevention Day.”

The RNLI is urging anyone choosing to visit the coast to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags - find your nearest at rnli.org.uk/lifeguardedbeaches
  • Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
  • In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

The very first World Drowning Prevention Day follows a recently adopted UN resolution on drowning prevention, acknowledging the issue for the first time in its 75-year history. The RNLI played an important role in the adoption of the UN resolution, working alongside the national governments of Ireland and Bangladesh to put a focus on drowning prevention. As a lifesaving charity, the RNLI is compelled to share its knowledge and expertise with others to prevent deaths from drowning.

World Drowning Prevention Day will also be celebrated by UN agencies such as the World Health Organisation and UNICEF. According to latest estimates from the World Health Organisation, drowning is the cause of 235,000 deaths every year. Drowning is a preventable cause of mortality that disproportionately affects children and adolescents in rural areas. Many countries report drowning as a leading cause of childhood mortality, particularly in children under 5 years of age.

The RNLI is also part of the UK’s national water safety forum who works in support of the National Drowning Prevention Strategy, which is recognised as a key step that countries can take to reduce drowning risks.

Please visit www.rnli.org.uk for more information about World Drowning Prevention Day.


Notes to Editors:

The RNLI has been working internationally on drowning prevention for ten years, drawing on almost 200 years of lifesaving experience within the UK and Ireland. The RNLI aims to be a catalyst for drowning prevention, working with partners globally and in countries where drowning is a significant problem to raise awareness, widen the research base and identify solutions to save more lives. The RNLI helps to influence policy and practice, encouraging others like the UN, national governments and NGOs to take action on drowning prevention.

RNLI lifeguard at Bournemouth beach


RNLI lifeguard at Bournemouth beach
RNLI shared its knowledge with partners in Bangladesh

RNLI/Becky Cheers

RNLI shared its knowledge with partners in Bangladesh
Evan Chrisp, from Gateshead got into trouble in the water

RNLI/Becky Cheers

Evan Chrisp, from Gateshead got into trouble in the water

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.