Drowning prevention warning as UK temperature starts to rise

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the drowning prevention charity, asks people to take note of simple safety messages to avoid a repeat of previous summers when people lost their lives cooling off in non-lifeguarded open water, not suitable for swimming.

It is important people make the most of the weather and enjoy the water but they should do so safely at sites designated for swimming.

RLSS UK’s Director of Research and Education, Mike Dunn, said: “In previous years we have seen a tragic amount of preventable deaths as people flocked to open water sites not suitable for swimming. These sites included rivers, quarries, lakes and reservoirs – all of which have many dangers including very cold water, currents, obstacles and uneven depths. They look so inviting but can be deadly.

In 2022, statistics reveal nearly 700 UK citizens lost their lives and each year, around 2,100 people in England alone are admitted to Accident and Emergency as a result of non-fatal drowning incidents with thousands more incidences occurring in Wales and Scotland.

On Wednesday 24 May, a body, believed to be that of a 16-year-old boy, has been recovered from the River Calder in Methley (CLICK FOR THE STORY).

In 2022, a 40-yr old man died in East Ardsley reservoir attempting to rescue a struggling swimmer.

Two years ago, a Woodkirk Academy child was rescued from the East Ardsley Reservoir, as she was drowning  Mike added: “We want people to enjoy water, but safely and sensibly – using their common sense and listening to advice. Do not be tempted to cool off in open water, we do not want another summer of tragedy.”

A number of Woodkirk Academy students were also reported to school as they were caught swimming in the East Ardsley reservoir. It is crucial that our students understand the risks of swimming in the reservoir, Rein Road Quarry or even Batley Boat Park.  

Share the below advice and take note of the dangers to avoid you or your child from becoming one of the statistics -  


  • Swim at unsupervised (un-lifeguarded sites) including lakes, quarries reservoirs and rivers;
  • Jump into the water until you have acclimatised to the water temperature;
  • Jump into the water from heights or ‘tombstone’ Swim into deep water which will be colder.


  • Swim at supervised (lifeguarded) sites Swim parallel with the shore, where you can quickly get to safety Swim with friends or family, so that you can help each other if you need to Look for signs and advice about the specific dangers at the place where you are swimming;
  • Think about what you will do if something goes wrong;
  • Contact a reputable outdoor pursuits or coasteering centre if you want to take part in more extreme activities  

Dangers of open water include–

The height of the fall or jump if tombstoning The depth of the water – this changes and is unpredictable Submerged objects may not be visible Obstacles or other people in the water Lack of safety equipment and increased difficulty for rescue 

The shock of cold water can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty in getting out of the water Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away Uneven banks and river beds Water quality eg toxic algal blooms and industrial/agricultural pollution  

All of these hazards can be controlled through proper organisation and planning.

If someone is in difficulty in the water –

Shout reassurance to them and shout for help and ensure the emergency services are on their way (call 999 or 112) Without endangering yourself, see if you can reach out to them, extend your reach with a stick, pole, item of clothing, lie down or stay secure. Alternatively throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy, part filled plastic container, ball or anything that will float. Keep your eye on them all the time and shout reassurance urging them to propel themselves to safety