Your Presence is worth more than presents, charity says as it encourages everyone to Be a Mate this Christmas

Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is running its annual Don’t Drink and Drown campaign this December, 11-17, to encourage festive partygoers to Be a Mate and ensure their friends make their way home safely after a night out. 

The campaign targets individuals to be responsible for their friends if they have had too much to drink; helping them to return home safely. As work Christmas parties and gatherings with friends and family for the festive period begin to take place, the charity fears that this could result in accidental fatalities as people walk home near the water. 

On average 73 people lose their lives each year through a substance-related drowning, this is more than a quarter (29%) of UK annual accidental drowning fatalities.

Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK said, “Research indicates that among those aged 16-25 who lost their lives to accidental drowning, 44% had alcohol and/or drugs in their bloodstream. As well as this 81% weren’t with friends at the time of drowning, which is why our key message is ‘Be a Mate’ to encourage everyone to look after their friends and ensure that everyone gets home safely to their families this Christmas. 

“We know that alcohol and drugs have a number of different effects on the body including lowering inhibitions, which leads to impaired judgment, and this is where we see people taking risks and getting themselves into trouble in and around water.

“In line with this, the data also reveals that when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, accidental drowning victims are much more likely to have unintentionally fallen into the water; 55% compared to 36% for those who were not under the influence.”

Further analysis among alcohol/drug related drownings highlighted that, where known, over half of drug and alcohol related drownings take place between 11pm and 5am, the time which many people may be walking home from nights out. RLSS UK wants to reinforce the message of safety in numbers, be a mate, and stay together to make sure everyone makes it home safe. 

Lee said: “We have seen cases where people walk home after a night out, and for various reasons get too close to the edge and end up in the water. At this time of year, the water is colder than it looks and cold water shock is a significant factor, and paired with alcohol numbing senses, limiting muscle ability and slowing down reactions, it makes it extremely difficult to be able to swim and self-rescue. As we see mainly young men, walking home alone, sadly in these cases there is nobody around to help, we see nights out turn into tragedies. We are encouraging everyone to remember that their presence with their family and friends this Christmas is worth much more than presents, so stay safe and stay away from the water after drinking.” 

For further detail on RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign visit where you can also download resources to spread the word and help keep your friends and family safe this winter.