Respect the water

In addition to its well known lifeboat search and rescue services, two years ago the RNLI launched it’s Respect the Water’ campaign with the aim of halving accidental deaths by drowning by 2024.

The campaign aims to show those most at risk the potential dangers of water, to encourage them to reconsider their actions and adopt safer behaviour.

Current drowning figures show a clear gender divide, with men accounting for over two-thirds of those who die. So the national campaign is primarily aimed at men, particularly those aged between 16 and 39 years, who are more likely to take risks. Although the safety advice is just as relevant for anyone visiting the river.

Community Lifesaving plan

For the Thames region there is now a Community Lifesaving plan following an extensive review involving all the emergency services on the water. The review identified the major risk groups for the upper tideway; these are rowers and their coaches, dog walkers, customers at riverside pubs, houseboat residents. Various actions to promote safety aims are now in place, these include:

  • Lifejacket clinics
  • Throw line training for riverside pubs and clubs
  • 1,000 Waterproof phone pouches for rowing crews and coaches
  • 20,000 RNLI ‘Respect the Water’ beer glasses distributed at river side pubs before the university boat race and at Rugby World Cup fan venues
  • Engaging with dog walkers at Chiswick House dog show
  • Liaison with river user groups
  • Inclusion of safety messages in news releases and at public events

Safety advice

The RNLI has produced safety advice for the coast which is equally applicable to the tideway. (Links open in new tabs via the RNLI and PLA website)