Walkers and Runners identified as high risk of accidental drowning year on year in UK

Getting out in the fresh air either enjoying a leisurely stroll, a longer hike or maybe a run is a fantastic way to get some exercise particularly during the lockdown period, to improve your mindfulness and spend time with friends or family. This blog is designed to raise awareness that 93 people who accidentally drowned during 2018 weren’t even taking part in water-based activity and were simply running or walking near water (this is the largest grouping of people who lost their lives).

Figures indicate that a total of 585* people lost their lives in 2018. Inland drowning (e.g. lakes, reservoirs, rivers etc) totalled 154 people and 73 people lost their lives through coastal drowning.

covid-19 lockdown margatelifeboat ramsgatelifeboat walkers runners bewateraware RNLIwatersafety RNLIcommunitysafety bebeachsafe kent Thanet Thanetlifeguards margatelifeboat kentfireandrescueservice coastguard999 knowwhotocall

Drowning in the UK accounts for more accidental fatalities every year than fires in the home or cycling on the road and many more people suffer life changing injuries in water related incidents

Many coastal walking fatalities were alone at the time of the incident and runners are often distracted by their activity, which can result in not taking into account hazards. These drownings are preventable.

Our ‘Top 10 Water Safety Tips’ when you are running or walking near Open Water

  1. Avoid walking or running near water in the dark

2. Never assume just because you have walked or run a route many times previously it is still safe.

3. Take with you a fully charged mobile phone stored in a waterproof case. Know how to use it and who to call in an emergency.

safetrx RNLICommunitysafety seasafety thanetrnlicommunitysafety

4. The SafeTrx app is increasing in poularity amongst outdoor enthusiast circles to chart their journey’s in remote areas. It is free to download and use. It will notify your specified point of contact if you are fail to report in.  The What3Words App is also free to download and use.

5. Always let someone know the route you are walking/running and the latest time that you will return. There are free smart phone app’s that you can download to indicate your route like an OS locate app

6. Try to always walk or run with a friend

6. When running or walking next to open water, stay well clear of bank edges. They are often unstable and this can create slips, trips and falls

7. If you do fall into water float on your back and follow the RNLI ‘Float to Live’ concept

8. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and take notice of any warning signs

9. Consider joining a running or walking group and make sure your walk or run is suitable for your fitness level

10. Never enter the water to try and help a person or animal – always call ‘999’ or ‘112’ and use any water rescue equipment if it is available. Ask for the Coastguard if you are at the Coast on the River Thames or Fire and Rescue Service for inland waterways

11.  Ensure that you comply with the latest government COVID-19 safety advice.  


In the UK tides are relatively regular and predictable, despite each year the RNLI being called out to rescue people who are caught out by the rising tides. If you intend to venture around any coastal areas affected by tidal water ensure you check the tide times and know how to exit the bay or coast. Tide tables can be obtained via Harbour Offices for a small fee or alternatively they can be checked via the Tides Near Me app

Float to Live – it could save your life!

Why not check out this short RNLI video on ‘Float to Live’

We hope you have a great run or walk!

Useful links:

How do I prevent being cut-off by the tide?

Check tide times, warns RNLI after calls to help dozens in three days!

Met office tide times

Can I suffer from ‘cold water shock’?

*Figures collated by the National Water Safety Forum – https://www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/ 


National Water Safety Forum

Royal Lifesaving Society

Thanet Roadrunners Ahtletics Club

National Fire Chief’s Council