REF 2021 Impact Case Study: Improving water safety: informing international and UK policies, changing behaviour and practice, and saving lives


Description of impact

Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death worldwide, accounting for around 320,000 deaths annually (World Health Organization, 2020) and around 200 deaths during sport and leisure activities each year in the UK (Water Incident Database). Original research from the University of Portsmouth (UoP) underpins ‘Respect the Water’, a national water-safety campaign that has increased awareness of the dangers of cold water, changed water-safety behaviour and saved the lives of children and adults. Our research underpins water-safety training delivered to over 100,000 children across the UK, has been incorporated into the practice, policies and recommendations of national and international water-safety organisations, and has changed UK legislation for lifejacket usage, preventing the deaths of fisherman. We have increased understanding of the causes of drowning-related deaths, informed medical guidelines for treating immersion casualties and underpinned UK, US and international Search and Rescue guidelines that are used in 162 countries by 99% of the world’s merchant shipping.
Impact statusClosed
Impact date1 Aug 201331 Jul 2020


  • REF2021