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Water safety  

Councils, as community leaders play a key role in tackling water safety. This includes working with statutory partners in the Fire and Rescue Service and police as well as water safety experts like the RNLI to assess and respond to risks locally. Councils also play a key role in educating residents about the risks posed by water.  


In 2020, 254 people lost their lives in accidental drownings in the UK, with hundreds more having near drowning experiences, sometimes suffering life-changing injuries. Children can be particularly at risk. 

One of the striking characteristics of the data on accidental drownings is that a large proportion of victims did not leave home on the day they died intending to go into water of significant depth. In 2020 nearly twice as many deaths happened whilst people were out walking or running, compared to those who died whilst swimming.  

There has been a small increase in the total number of drownings over the last few years including the number of suicides in water over the past few years which accounted for more than a third of drownings in 2020. 

Water safety resources 

Media releases, briefings and legislation