Water safety - staying safe

Every year in the UK, around 37 children aged under 19 years have drowned from 2007-2016 in London, about four children on average each year.

Many of these accidents are as a result of simple everyday mistakes. Although the numbers of children who drown are very low in London, many drowning deaths are preventable.

Drowning can follow planned or unplanned activity in, on or around water and can happen in as little as one inch of water and is usually silent and quick – children may not splash or scream and can drown within a few minutes. 

Actions to prevent child drowning

You can

  • teach children to swim and encourage water safety skills – this is also compulsory as part of the national curriculum for primary schools.
  • educate parents about active supervision (eg keep children within arms reach and avoid distractions) and designate a water watcher
  • make sure the right safety gear (eg life jacket) is always used
  • install barriers to control access to water and ensure safe swimming environments
  • increase public awareness and highlight the vulnerability of children and of not drinking and swimming
  • train bystanders in safe rescue (‘reach or throw but don’t go') and resuscitation
  • provide guidance on safe swimming for people with epilepsy.

What to do in an emergency

  • Dial 999 and ask for the fire and ambulance services
  • Keep calm 
  • Shout for help
  • If it's safe to do so, reach a person using a stick, pole or clothing to pull them to the water's edge. Always lie down to do this
  • Give first aid

Download and read information on reducing child drowing in London

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