Skip to main content

Outdoors (including Water) Safety

Explore subtopics

What is Water Safety?

According to the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), more than 400 people accidently drown in the UK and Ireland every year and many more have non-fatal experiences, sometimes suffering life-changing injuries. Around 85% of accidental drownings occur at open water sites. Many of these drownings occur due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of open water safety. The basic principles of open water safety, combined with knowledge and understanding of the hazards, can increase the enjoyment of open water and significantly reduce the number of incidents that occur each year.

RLSS advise that risks to consider in open water include:

  • The shock of cold water can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty in getting out of the water.
  • Lack of safety equipment and increased difficulty for rescue.
  • The height of the fall or jump if tombstoning.
  • The depth of the water – this changes and is unpredictable.
  • Underwater objects and hazards may not be visible.
  • Obstacles or other people in the water.
  • Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away.
  • Uneven banks and river beds.
  • Water quality, e.g. toxic algal blooms and industrial/ agricultural pollution.

Coastal and mountainous conditions can change rapidly, and you can get into trouble before you know it. To enjoy the coast and country safely, check the weather before you set out, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, take any equipment and provisions (such as mobile phone, water) and be aware of the risks.

HM Coastguard - The UK's modern search and rescue service

What is Mountain Rescue?

Mountain rescue team members are on call, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to recover climbers from precipitous crags, reunite lost walkers with their pals and ensure injured and sick casualties are safely delivered into vital hospital care. But they also regularly help search for missing children and vulnerable adults, on and off the hills, whilst administering sympathetic support to their families. They search river banks and swift water, and wade chest-deep through flooded urban streets aiding swimmers, kayakers and devastated homeowners.” Mountain Rescue England and Wales

Mountain Rescue recommend people are Adventure Smart, by being well prepared mentally, physically and kit-wise. They make the following recommendations before anyone sets out on hills, mountains and moorlands:

  • Charge your phone: it needs to last all day. They also suggest registering the phone with SMS to the emergency services | EmergencySMS as text are less battery intensive than calls.
  • Plan the route carefully: including consider day light hours and if there is enough time.
  • Check the weather.
  • Leave details of your route plan.
  • Keep an eye on the weather: it can change on hills and mountains suddenly.
  • Keep the party together.
  • Eat well throughout the outing.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia.
  • Lone outing: be aware of extra risk, and make sure someone knows exactly where you are meant to be and when.
  • Take with you:
    • Suitable clothing and footwear
    • Food and water
    • Map, compass, torch and whistle
    • Watch
    • First Aid kid
    • Helmet (if cycling or climbing)

When in the countryside always follow the countryside code to keep yourself, others, wildlife and other animals safe.

Useful Links

Maritime and Coastguard Agency – YouTube

Visit the Youtube Channel

Maritime and Coastguard Agency – GOV.UK 

Visit the Website

RNLI – Royal National Lifeboat Institution – Saving Lives at Sea

Visit the Website

Stay safe – Mountain Rescue England and Wales

Visit the Website

Summer safety – Keeping You Safe – North Wales Fire And Rescue Service 

Visit the Website

Water safety   | Local Government Association

Visit the Website

Water Safety – Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Visit the Website

Water Safety – South Wales Fire and Rescue Service 

Visit the Website

Winter safety – Keeping You Safe – North Wales Fire And Rescue Service 

Visit the Website

Help and support

For victims, families and concerned people

In case of emergency, make a note of all relevant details: location; name, gender and age of casualty; nature of injuries or emergency; number of people in the party; your mobile phone number.

If you spot someone in danger at sea, or on the coast, you should always call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Her Majesty’s Coastguard delivers a modern search and rescue (SAR) service, responding to 999 calls as well as radio and satellite distress calls. When someone’s in trouble, we send out helicopters, lifeboats and coastguard rescue teams. We coordinate this from our 12 control rooms around the UK coast – 24 hours a day, 365-days a year.

If you need emergency help on the mountains, call 999, ask for the ‘Police’ and then ‘Mountain Rescue’.

Information and tips from Royal Life Saving Society UK.