2011 Water Related Fatality report published

Drowning and immersion deaths from accidents or natural causes across the UK in 2011 remained static with over 400 deaths.

The report from the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) identified 407 water-related fatalities throughout 2011 with the majority – 219 (54 per cent) – taking place in inland waters including rivers, canals, lakes, streams, lochs, ponds and reservoirs.

Data from the NWSF’s Water Incident Database (WAID) also shows that just over a quarter of deaths – 105 (26%) – happened at the coast or harbour, such as at beaches, marinas or docks.

A further 41 fatalities (10%) occurred out at sea. The UK Water Related Fatalities 2011 report adds that the number of drownings in a bath (including jacuzzis or hot-tubs) stood at 14, the same number of people who died in a swimming pool.

The majority of deaths were reported in England (429), followed by Scotland (108), Wales (68) and Northern Ireland (14). The south and west of England reported the most frequent number of deaths with a combined 207.


Activities taking place at the time of each death have been logged, with the most common being someone walking or running before entering the water, including falling or jumping in, which occurred in 87 cases. While 39 people died while swimming, 35 were playing or doing an activity next to the water, and 20 were in a manually-powered boat.

There were also 16 deaths involving a motor-boat, a further 15 with a motor vehicle and four drownings due to flooding.

Water-related deaths for children and young people up to the age of 19 reached 47 (12%) in 2011. Nearly half of these – 22 deaths – were in the 15 to 19 age group, predominantly in a river or lake. Around a quarter – 12 deaths – involved babies and toddlers aged four and under. Boys were the victim in 10 of the tragedies, which were mainly in a pool, pond or bath:


Summer months from June to August saw a peak in deaths, and despite tragedy striking on every day of the week, deaths were more common on Saturdays and Sundays.

WAID collects data from a wide range of sources including the emergency services, sports governing bodies, coastguards, rescue services, coroners courts and media reports. The full report can be downloaded from the NWSF website: 2011 WAID report (PDF).