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RNLI sand art highlights 2.5 million global drowning deaths

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI marks World Drowning Prevention Day with sand art to highlight global drowning deaths

World Drowning Prevention Day sand art


World Drowning Prevention Day sand art

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) sand art at Longsands beach, Tynemouth, has been created for World Drowning Prevention Day today to highlight the number of lives lost to drowning. In the last ten years, a staggering 2.5 million lives around the world have been lost, which is 650 deaths a day and 27 an hour.

The RNLI is urging people to stay safe and follow safety advice 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.

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
  • 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.

Please visit 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.

World Drowning Prevention Day sand art


World Drowning Prevention Day sand art
World Drowning Prevention Day sand art


World Drowning Prevention Day sand art

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.