Heatwave: bathers warned of drowning risk ahead of scorching temperatures

Casual swimmers should be aware of the risk of drowning when taking a dip in the water during the hot weather, council leaders are warning today. 


Crowded beach

Casual swimmers should be aware of the risk of drowning when taking a dip in the water during the hot weather, council leaders are warning today. 

The Local Government Association, which represents councils across England and Wales, is urging people to keep safe in the water and learn what do in case of an emergency, ahead of next week’s heatwave.  

Last year, 277 people died as a result of accidental drowning, an increase in 23 deaths from the previous year.  

With more people likely to be out near water during the latest spell of hot weather, councils are urging everybody to be vigilant to the dangers of drowning, especially parents with children. 

People are being warned particularly of the risk of cold-water shock, which is one of the biggest causes of drowning. Even strong and confident swimmers can struggle and drown after jumping into cold and unpredictable seas, rivers, canals and lakes where temperatures can be as low as 15C in the summer - half that of typical swimming pools heated to 30C. 

The warning comes ahead of the second annual World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July. This year’s theme is ‘Do one thing to prevent drowning’ and encourages people to share safety advice, take swimming lessons and support local downing prevention groups and charities.  

Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: 

“In a heatwave, one of the first things people do is flock to their local bathing spot to cool off and what might look like a safe place to take a dip or have a swim could in fact be a danger.

“Councils want to make sure everyone is safe around water, which is why we are urging people to follow our advice to be careful and vigilant to the dangers. 

“Our advice is to brush up on your water safety skills and always swim in water that is clearly marked as safe and under the control of a lifeguard. Swimming in unknown water could lead to tragic consequences.” 

Notes to editors 

  1. The LGA has published a water safety toolkit providing advice to councils on how to set up their own water safety partnerships to keep residents.
  2. Nationals Water Safety Forum – Respect the Water campaign focuses on the following key messages: 
    Call 999 Fire & rescue for inland waters or coastguard at the coast.
    Tell the person to float on their back 
    Throw them something that floats