A charity says it is concerned after data revealed Lancashire as having among the highest number of accidental drownings in the UK.

With 14 accidental drownings in Lancashire in 2023, drowning prevention charity The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) has highlighted the county as an area of concern.

According to figures released by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), in Blackburn with Darwen, two accidental drownings were reported in 2023.

Two were also reported in Blackpool. The remaining 10 are classified as ‘Lancashire’ in the data set coming under the county council authority area.

In the last five years, there have been 48 accidental drowning deaths in the area and 2023 saw Lancashire report the second-highest number of fatalities in England – more than four times higher than the national average.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is urging residents and visitors alike to stay vigilant when in, on or around water in Lancashire this year.

It’s reminding everyone to familiarise themselves with the Water Safety Code as part of its annual drowning prevention week campaign (June 15-22)

Targeted at young children and families, the national water safety awareness campaign aims to ensure as many people as possible are equipped with vital lifesaving knowledge to allow them to enjoy water safely this summer.

Beckie Ramsey, the mother of a Chorley teenager, Dylan Ramsey, who drowned in a quarry in 2011, said the figures are concerning.

She is campaigning in schools and beyond to raise awareness of the dangers of open-water swimming.

She said: “It’s very concerning that Lancashire has such a high accidental drowning rate.

“As these statistics have been released I will ensure that Lancashire schools are a high priority for me to visit, regardless of if the schools have already been visited by another organisation.”

It was also found that Nicola Bulley drowned,  while taking her usual dog walk along the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, on January 27, 2023.

A spokesperson for Blackburn with Darwen council said: “Lancashire, including Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool, remains as one of the highest water-related fatality rate areas in the UK.

“In 2023, 14 people lost their lives to accidental drowning.

“This week, as part of Drowning Prevention Week, Blackburn with Darwen Leisure has been busy educating children about water safety in Darwen Leisure Centre, and Blackburn Sports and Leisure Centre.

“Don't let anyone you know become another statistic. Drowning is preventable.”

Matt Croxall, charity director at RLSS UK, said: “The high number of accidental drownings reported in Lancashire emphasises just how important it is that families are aware of the importance of water safety and have the correct knowledge to make the right decisions around water, especially given the ease of access to rivers and canals in the county. 

“With warmer summer days on the horizon, we will inevitably see people flock to open water sites across Lancashire, as well as taking opportunities to enjoy water at home in the garden.

"We want to ensure that everyone can enjoy water this summer by having the knowledge to do so safely.

“Bringing water safety to the forefront of everyone’s mind, Drowning Prevention Week equips people with the appropriate skills and knowledge to be summer-ready when it comes to being safe in, on and around water during the summer months and beyond.”

During the 2023 campaign, RLSS UK materials and resources were used to educate more than 1.85 million children in vital water safety knowledge and skills.

Matt added: “For this year’s drowning prevention week campaign, we are looking to educate even more young people on water safety, providing children with the skills to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water.”

For drowning prevention week, RLSS UK has a range of free new and updated educational resources available on its website for children, including lesson plans for schools and downloadable resources for parents, as well as an engaging video animation to support families in learning the Water Safety Code.

For more information around Drowning Prevention Week, please visit our website www.rlss.org.uk/dpw.