Drowning Reports

Canadian Drowning Prevention Plan

The Canadian Drowning Prevention Plan was formally released at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Vancouver, British Columbia on October 17-19, 2017.

The Canadian Drowning Prevention Plan was developed as one of the four supporting strategies outlined in the World Health Organization’s: Preventing drowning: an implementation guide (May 2017), which was developed in response to the World Health Organization’s: Global Report on Drowning: Preventing a Leading Killer (2014).

The Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition, tasked with developing the Canadian Drowning Prevention Plan, was formed in response to a call to action from the World Health Organization’s report.

The aspirational long-term goal of the plan is for zero drowning deaths in Canada in 50+ years. The plan is dynamic and will reflect the progress of data, actions, and outcomes in key focus areas for drowning prevention.


Drowning Research

The Lifesaving Society conducts drowning research to support its work in the prevention of water-related injuries and fatalities. Ongoing research and analysis support the Society’s evidence-based water-rescue training and Water Smart® drowning prevention education. The information also provides an educational tool and information base for the Society’s affiliate members, governments, other organizations and the general public.

Conducting annual drowning research enables the Society to focus its Water Smart® drowning prevention efforts on people most at risk (like men fishing in small boats) or those who can make a significant difference (such as parents of young children).

We gratefully acknowledge the support, co-operation and efforts of:

  • The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Alberta
  • The Office of the Chief Coroner of the Northwest Territories 
  • The Drowning Prevention Research Centre Canada 

Royal Life Saving Society releases Commonwealth drowning mortality data

Inaugural Commonwealth report identifies drowning as a serious health issue and highlights proactive prevention measures

February 2020 saw the completion of an illuminating report, the first of its kind, to provide a detailed analysis on the issue of fatal drowning across the Commonwealth, with additional information on both strategic and practical, achievable preventative measures.

Published in July, the report, led by Dr Aminur Rahman, the Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) Drowning Prevention Director, based with the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB), the RLSS Member in Bangladesh, gives an evidence-based estimate of fatal drownings in Commonwealth nations. This data provides a better understanding of the mortality burden in Commonwealth countries, ultimately leading to more effective prevention actions.

The most recent figures estimate Commonwealth drowning fatalities number 110,594, accounting for over a third of all fatal drownings globally. Of all the countries in the Commonwealth, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan bear the heaviest burden of tragedies, accounting for over three quarters of the estimated Commonwealth drowning fatality total.

“More than 300 people die from drowning each day across the Commonwealth, with low and middle-income (LMIC) countries the most vulnerable. Drowning is preventable even in these LMICs. Now is the time for action by the Commonwealth nations, to prevent these unnecessary deaths” highlights the report lead, Dr Aminur Rahman.

RLSS exists to promote water safety across the Commonwealth through education, training and qualifications, and believes that accidental drowning is a devastating loss of life, made harder to bear by it being a preventable death.

These measures will align with RLSS’s position statement on the ‘Connection of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the Global Drowning Prevention Effort’, that sees allied partners develop and maintain drowning prevention work, alongside the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘Global Report on Drowning’, and the relevant SDGs.

RLSS Commonwealth President, HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, added his voice to the call for action:

“Over the last year, the Royal Life Saving Society has been undertaking a vital piece of work, to report the number of deaths by drowning in the Commonwealth.

“There is a real concern that the loss of life might be much higher in many Commonwealth nations, given that not all deaths by drowning are recorded accurately, or even at all. The figures we do have, tell us that the number of lives lost is extremely high, given that some simple interventions could prevent people from drowning.

“Today, I am calling on all Commonwealth Governments and supported agencies, to use the data in the Commonwealth Fatal Drowning Fact Sheet, in collaboration with key agencies and lifesaving organisations, to start the process that ultimately could see accidental drowning a thing of the past.

“I implore you to share this important issue with your governments and put an end to the unnecessary loss of life through simple, yet effective, drowning prevention interventions.”

Message from HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, Commonwealth President 

Royal Lifesaving Society Commonwealth Drowning Factsheet 

The Royal Life Saving Society and the Connection of the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the Global Drowning Prevention Effort