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Water Savvy Water Safe

Drowning in the UK accounts for more accidental fatalities than fire deaths in the home or cycling deaths on the road.

On average 400 people drown in the UK every year, that equates to one person every 20 hours, it is the third most common death amongst young people aged 10-18.

Evidence shows that 44% of drowning fatalities happen to people who had no intention of entering the water. This is a stark reminder that it isn’t just traditional water users who get into danger.

Link to download the Always follow the SAFE code leaflet
Click on the image to download the Always follow the SAFE code leaflet

The programme

The programme, which started as a pilot project, has been delivered to young people at local schools and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

The life-saving programme will now continue to be developed and rolled out to local schools and also universities.      

Link to download the Summer WaterSafety leaflet
Click on the image to download the Summer Water Safety leaflet

Drowning has a devastating impact on families, on friends and on our communities.  Some individuals survive drowning events, but many are left with life-changing injuries. 

Fatalities rise markedly from mid to late teens and throughout the 20’s. In every age group, men are the most at-risk group accounting for eight in ten of all deaths.  A further 200 people take their own lives in our waters.   

Education programme

East Sussex Fire & Rescue have developed an education programme Water Savvy Water Safe WS2, which is a collaborative working group between East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS), Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), aimed at yr. 11 & 12 students, as well as Universities.

The presentation is an interactive experience incorporating lifesaving key water safety messages around how to keep themselves and others safe both in and around water. The presentation will focus on the hard-hitting effects of cold water shock, the unexpected power of water and students will come away with an increased awareness of the risks in, on and around water. 

As young people become more independent we need to ensure that they are adequately prepared for the types of scenarios that so often lead to drowning. Nearly 44% of people who drowned in 2022 had no intention of entering the water, so when the worst does happen they are ill-prepared for it.

Equipping children and teenagers with the knowledge, skills and experience in water safety will contribute hugely to their long-term safety around water. 

The nature of what the students see and hear is ‘hard-hitting’ in that it exposes them to the possible consequences of drowning. The fundamental aim is not to shock or sensationalise but to bring home to students the gravity of the matter. The message is ‘Be Water Aware’. 

Water is a great medium for leisure and sporting activities and we want people to enjoy being beside, on and in the water safely.

There are two packages available a gold package at 45mins and a silver at 30 mins.

More information

If you would like more information about this exciting initiative or would like to discuss how your school can get involved, please contact Susan Taylor, Water Safety Coordinator at