Drowning has caused over 2.5 million deaths in the last decade. The overwhelming majority of these deaths (90%) happen in low- and middle-income countries. Globally, the highest drowning rates occur among children aged 1–4 years, followed by children aged 5–9 years.
The human, social and economic toll of these losses is intolerably high, and entirely preventable.
In 2023, the 76th World Health Assembly adopted its first ever resolution on drowning prevention. The resolution accepts the invitation of the United Nations General Assembly for WHO to coordinate actions within the UN system on drowning prevention and facilitate the observance of World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July each year.
To mark this year’s World Drowning Prevention Day, WHO will continue to focus on raising awareness on drowning as a public health issue, reminding people that anyone can drown, but no one should.
We are also raising awareness on the six evidence-based, low-cost drowning prevention interventions that countries and organizations can use to drastically reduce the risk of drowning. These include:
Share our campaign material:
A variety of resources are available to help you raise awareness on drowning and share helpful advice for drowning prevention. We encourage you to post available social media tiles on Facebook, Twitter and other digital platforms, or distribute our factsheets, infographics and short films among your friends and colleagues. Be sure to tag #DrowningPrevention on social media.
Enroll in a swimming and water safety class:
Learning basic swimming and water safety skills greatly reduces risk of drowning. This is particularly important for children aged 6 years and above. Not only is swimming a skill for life, but it is also a great way to stay fit and active.
Learn how to perform rescue and resuscitation:
Learning to perform rescue and resuscitation can save lives. Survival following drowning greatly improves if cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is performed as soon as a person is removed from water. Ensure your own safety when performing rescue by participating in training programmes that teach safe rescue techniques.
Always ensure children are constantly supervised by a responsible adult when around water:
Whether near a pond, river, beach, swimming pool or bathtub, adult supervision is necessary to ensure that children can enjoy water safely. It is critical for supervising adults to remain vigilant and avoid distractions so that they can respond quickly if a child needs help.
Always wear a lifejacket when travelling on water:
Wearing a lifejacket at all times when travelling over water is important for people with all levels of swimming ability. Lifejackets are one of the most important articles of safety equipment when going on the water and there are designs suitable for virtually every type of activity.
Be aware of the weather conditions and ensure any boat you are travelling in has adequate safety equipment and is in good condition:
Be prepared for potential emergencies when you travel over water. Check the weather forecast prior to leaving shore, make sure you have access to quality safety equipment such as lifejackets and throwable flotation devices, and ensure the boat has been regularly inspected and serviced.