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RLSS UK to launch Drowning Prevention Week 2024 

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is calling on leisure operators to support Drowning Prevention Week 2024 (15-22 June) to help stem the alarming increase in child drownings. 


Now entering its second decade, Drowning Prevention Week (DPW) is RLSS UK’s biggest water safety campaign of the year. It targets families, carers, teachers and instructors with vital water safety skills for children aged five to 15. 

 Last year, operators educated an unprecedented 1.3 million children in water safety in swimming pools and leisure centres across the UK and Ireland. RLSS UK wants more pool operators and aquatics providers to support its campaign this year to expand the reach of water safety education and help prevent accidental drownings. 

 It comes as the most recent data from the National Child Mortality Database (NCMD) recorded evidence of an increase in child drowning deaths in England from 20 in 2019/20 to 37 in 2021/22. 

  Co-authored by RLSS UK, the statistics also highlighted that the risk of drowning was 3.5x higher for children of black ethnicity than white. The risk of drowning was also twice as high for youngsters from deprived areas than those living in less deprived areas. 

Jo Talbot, director of RLSS UK, said: 'Drowning is preventable, and it’s unacceptable that the number of children losing their lives in water is increasing. Leisure operators are critical in delivering water safety knowledge to youngsters from all walks of life. The sector made an incredible contribution to RLSS UK’s Drowning Prevention Week last year  – Parkwood Leisure ran 87,000 water safety lessons alone, and GLL educated over 200,000 children with water safety during learn to swim lessons as part of its substantial support for last year’s campaign, showing the power of operators’ collective impact. We urge more pool and aquatic providers to get involved in this year’s campaign to help spread water safety messages so we can reverse this alarming trend in child drownings.'

Running 15 to 22 June, the campaign educates children and those with supervisory responsibility ahead of the summer school holidays when they spend more time outdoors – 3 in 4 (75%) of teenage drowning deaths occur in the summer. 

Joining RLSS UK’s Drowning Prevention Week for the first time this year are Freedom Leisure and Fusion Lifestyle. 

  Hannah Smith, National Aquatic business manager at Freedom Leisure, says: 'Freedom Leisure is thrilled to support RLSS UK’s Drowning Prevention Week 2024. Drowning is preventable, yet in 2022, over 300 people across the UK and Ireland lost their lives to drowning. We firmly believe that nobody should drown, and as such, we’re passionate about educating our customers and local communities about water safety and giving people the essential life skills they need to keep themselves and their families safe in and around water.'

Leading up to and during Drowning Prevention Week 2024, Freedom Leisure’s Learn to Swim teams from its 70 swimming pools across England and Wales are planning a range of outreach work, visiting local schools and groups to talk about water safety and encourage more people to sign up to swimming lessons. 

'We’re planning an exciting week full of themed safety lessons in our pools, which will teach vital safety skills to the 62,000 children and adults participating in Freedom Leisure swimming lessons every week. We’ll be using Drowning Prevention Week 2024 to raise awareness about the importance of keeping safe, particularly as we go into summer when children and adults spend more time outside and around water,' she added. 

Operators can get involved in various ways, from incorporating water safety skills in swimming lessons and running dedicated workshops to visiting local schools and hosting Rookie Lifeguard taster sessions. A suite of free-to-download resources is available to help plan and run activities during RLSS UK’s Drowning Prevention Week. These include stickers, flags, posters, flashcards, lesson plans, and certificates. 

To siign up for access to these free educational resources during Drowning Prevention Week 2024 here: Leisure Centre DPW Sign-ups

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