Public Urged to ‘Respect the Water’

With 46% of UK accidental drownings in 2022 taking place in the three summer months of June, July and August, the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) is reminding people to Respect the Water as the warm weather begins but with water temperatures remaining dangerously cold.

The accidental drownings form part of the total water-related fatalities in the UK – for 2022 the total number of deaths in water was 597, a decrease of 19 from the previous year.

The statistics and figures in the report are from the Water Incident Database (WAID), which is maintained by the NWSF. The key accidental drowning insights are as follows:

  • There were 226 accidental fatalities in the UK in 2022; 105 of them during June, July and August.
  • Of that 226, 151 of them were in England; 45 in Scotland; 22 in Wales; 8 in Northern Ireland.
  • Inland water, such as rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs, and quarries continue to be the leading locations for accidental drowning with 60% of deaths.
  • Males continue to over represent with 83% of accidental fatalities.
  • Recreational activities accounted for 58% of accidental fatalities.

#RespecttheWater is the partnership campaign run by the NWSF and aims to provide simple life saving advice to help members of the public take personal responsibility for their own and their family’s safety, with a focus this year on knowing how to help other people in trouble.

If you see someone else in trouble in the water this summer, remember Call, Tell, Throw:

  • Call 999 – ask for Fire & Rescue if inland or the Coastguard if by the sea.
  • Tell the struggling person to try to float on their back.
  • Throw them something that floats.

The Forum will also be promoting the #RespectTheWater campaign later in the summer for World Drowning Prevention Day on 25th July.

Dawn Whittaker, NWSF Chair, NFCC Drowning Prevention Lead and CEO East Sussex Fire Rescue Service said:

“The extreme heat last summer presented considerable challenges at our coastal and inland waterways as more people entered the water to cool down. With another summer of unprecedented heat ahead, we are promoting the #RespectTheWater campaign to help people stay safe while still enjoying their time in and by the water.

“These devastating numbers are an annual tragic reminder about the importance of raising awareness of water safety and drowning prevention, so we urge the public to understand the dangers and to learn the importance of knowing what to do in an emergency: if you see someone in trouble in the water, the best way you can help is by staying calm, staying on land, and following the 3-step rescue guide – Call, Tell, Throw.

“We have seen increased numbers participating in water sports and water-based activities and consequently a rise of the number of incidents associated with activities such as Stand-up Paddle boarding and Open Water Swimming. We want people to enjoy the water safely, so we will continue to focus on guidance, education, and awareness for the public.

“We will continue to work together to reduce deaths caused by drowning and water related injuries in the UK, and endeavour to reach our collective goal of halving accidental drownings in the UK by 2026. The global water safety community is onboard with a UN resolution recognising the scale and burden of drowning, calling for urgent international action.”

For more information about the #RespectTheWater campaign visit

The full report, with UK and national trend reports along with the interactive dashboard can be accessed here.

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