Water safety examples

Read through examples of water safety best practice.


Elmbridge is a District Council covering a section of the Thames in Surrey. It contains a complex range of water courses, with a variety of landowners who each have their own responsibilities for river safety. 

Following a death in the Thames in 2016, Elmbridge District Council decided to draw up a local plan. Officers worked through the Elmbridge Community and Safety Partnership.

Water-related incidents, including near misses, in the previous five years were reviewed to identify risks. Partners included: Surrey Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Royal Life Saving Society, Environment Agency, Surrey Youth Services and Kingston University. This enabled the plan to identify measures that could be collectively taken to reduce any future incidents.

The plan, which is currently being finalised, will include:

  • an annual communications plan that will be joined up across all partner agencies sharing key messages through channels available to each agency; 
  • RNLI Respect the Water campaign to be championed locally by all partners – and neighbouring authorities along the river Thames;
  • £1,000 of local funding obtained to provide safety equipment for local waterside businesses in conjunction with free training organised through RNLI;
  • The water safety plan to be a living document – updated in line with experience.

Education in Durham

Education is an essential part of reducing incidents and fatalities on our waterways and beaches. Durham County Council’s activities illustrate what can be done. 

Utilising the locally developed Dying-to-be-Cool water safety campaign, the council has made significant progress with plans to roll out water safety assemblies to all secondary schools in the county. The assemblies include a video, presentations from the education service and the mother of a drowning victim, Cameron Gosling, and a demonstration of rescue equipment and safety advice from the fire and rescue service. Conveying the danger of cold water shock is a key message. 

School children also access an annual safety carrousel aimed at year 6 pupils. This involves a series of half-hour workshops including road, fire and internet safety as well as water safety. Approximately 5000 pupils attend this event every year. 

The council also invites schools to safety sessions at an outdoor pool which allows pupils to learn lifesaving skills and key messages about cold water shock in more realistic temperatures than found in indoor pools, but under safe controlled conditions.

Going forward, the council is working towards introducing additional age specific water related safety campaigns, including the development of a ‘swimsafe’ initiative – traditionally run at coastal areas – at inland locations which may attract young swimmers.

Bath and North east Somerset – River Safety Group

Read an account of how Bath and North East Somerset Council formed the Avon River Safety Group with various partners, commissioned a RoSPA study and carried out physical work to make the river bank safer.

Cornwall – water safety page

Cornwall County Council has produced this webpage addressing various water safety risks and bringing together advice, resources and useful links (it also contains posters that can be be downloaded and printed out by businesses and residents).