World Drowning Prevention Day 2022

‘Do one thing to prevent drowning’ is the key message in this year’s World Drowning Prevention Day 2022.

In April 2021, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly affirmed drowning as a preventable global public health issue and declared 25 July as World Drowning Prevention Day. Each year, the campaign highlights a key theme to bring focus and attention to an important aspect of drowning prevention. The theme for 2022 is “Do one thing to prevent drowning”. 

An important message

“Globally, an estimated 235,600 people drown every year, and drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children aged 5-14 years,” says the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), a UK-focused, voluntary network working to reduce water-related deaths. 

Last year, the UK saw an increase in accidental drownings within inland waters, such as rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs and quarries. These leading locations amounted to 62% of deaths. Forty per cent of people had no intention to enter the water. Causes included slips and falls, being cut off by the tide, or being swept in by waves. 

Do one thing this World Drowning Prevention Day

This year’s “Do one thing to prevent drowning” message is aimed at everyone – from individuals to governments. The campaign encourages individuals to share water safety advice, take swimming lessons or support local drowning prevention groups and charities. Groups can set up water safety campaigns, support or deliver new drowning prevention initiatives. While governments are being encouraged to launch prevention policies and strategies, and commit to prevention programmes. 

How safe is outdoor swimming?

Understanding some of the risks involved in outdoor swimming is the first step to being safe, which is why we’ve put together ‘Starting Out – Basic Guide to Outdoor Swimming’ so you can begin your outdoor swimming journey with confidence. 

Covering everything from entry and exit points to cold shock, tides and currents, it also has a basic guide to clothes and equipment to keep you safe and comfortable while in and around the water.

Key safety tips 

Any outdoor activity comes with a level of risk and outdoor swimming is no different. But with the correct preparation and knowledge, it can be a safe and enjoyable sport or hobby. Read on for our key safety tips – or read the full article here.

  • It sounds obvious but ensure you can swim at a basic level. Can you tread water, float on your back or swim confidently back to your depth if required?
  • Think before you swim. Check your entry and exit points and consider currents, direction of flow and tides depending on where you plan to swim.
  • Never mix swimming and alcohol. 
  • Swim with other people – ideally those that know the area and have swum in open water before, or with someone on dry land who could seek help if needed.
  • Don’t jump in. Enter the water slowly but consistently to prevent ‘cold water shock’ – that gasping reaction to plunging into cold water.
  • Make sure you’re visible in the water. Wear a brightly coloured cap and consider using a tow-float
  • If someone gets in trouble, don’t put yourself at risk but call for help – dial 999 or 112 If you find yourself in difficulty FLOAT TO LIVE.
  • Check the weather forecast – wind will make you feel cooler even on a warm day, rain will make changing and drying harder.
  • When sea swimming, check tide times, swell and wind. When river swimming, ensure you know the direction of flow and consider the area catchment, flash floods and flow can happen in mountain rivers when there is heavy rain upstream.
  • Consider joining an outdoor swimming group, or swim in a supervised lido or outdoor pool, which offers lifeguards, in-water support and facilities. 
  • Swim on a lifeguarded beach. You can find your nearest on the RNLI website.

Find out more about World Drowning Prevention Day 2022 via the RNLI or National Water Safety Forum (NWSF). You can also show your support by sharing the message on social media, using hashtags #DrowningPrevention Day and #RespectTheWater

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Jo is the Gear Editor for Outdoor Swimmer and also writes news and features for the website. A keen open water swimmer and long-distance walker, she loves seeking out lakes and lidos close to her home in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. She is the author of The Slow Traveller, editor and founder of independent magazine, Ernest, and has previously tested outdoor clothing and kit for BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC Focus and Ernest Journal.