Open Water Safety – What Are The Risks?


According to the Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS) 85% of accidental drowings occur at open water sites such as lakes, rivers, loch’s and man made open water such as quarries and reservoirs . A significant number occur due to lack of knowledge around the dangers and risks involved. In 2018 73 people drowned in rivers (source National Water Safety Forum). You are more likely to die from drowning than you are being hit by a car or in being in a fire.  One in 10 people admit nearly drowning.

Here are some handy tips to help keep you safe at Open Water:


1.  Check out local hazard signs which will inform you about local risk
2.  Swim parralell to the shore – even water which appears calm and flat can change with weather and seasons
3.  Don’t enter fast flowing rivers or swim close to weirs or locks – read about the dangers at Yalding Weir, Kent
4.  Don’t consume alcohol before or during a swimming session. It impedes judgement and reduces inhabitions resulting in people taking risks.
5.  Always take a friend so that they can call for help if something goes wrong.
6.  Wear a correctly maintained lifejacket or buoyancy aid if you are taking part in sailing, fishing or other water activity.
7.  If you or another person gets into difficulty shout for help – call ‘999’ or ‘112’ ask for the Fire Service straight away (for all coastal emergencies always ask for the Coastguard).


8.  If someone gets into difficulty and if you can do so safely throw them an object which will float such as a lifebuoy or similar. At some locations rescue equipment such as a throw bag or reach pole maybe available.
9. Be aware that under water hazards can exist which are hidden such as rocks, discarded shopping trolley’s, bicycles or rubbish.

Further top advice concerning open water safety from the RLSS can be found via this link

More useful links

Do’s and Don’ts around open water activity

How Our Team Are Supporting The Drowning Prevention Week

Open Water Swimming – Advice From The Fire Service

Doing It For Dylan  – Discover Becky Ramsey’s pioneering water safety campaign

Lifejacket checks