Learn to Swim

A guide to the Learn to Swim Programme

What is the Water Safety Code?

Water Safety

The Water Safety Code provides essential and easy-to-remember information to help people plan for their activity and understand what they should do in an emergency.

1. Stop and think – Always Swim in a Safe Place

It is important for swimmers to know the dangers when swimming outdoors and preferably swim at a lifeguarded beach, organised session or supervised venue.

There are many dangers with water, which can include:

  • Cold water, many drownings happen almost immediately on entry because of cold water shock, this is quickly followed by Swim Failure when the nerves and muscle get too cold to work effectively
  • Hidden currents under the water
  • Not being able to determine the depth of water due to poor clarity
  • Poor quality, leading to illness
  • Uneven and slippery surfaces that present as unsafe to walk on
  • Discarded rubbish that would cause harm

2. Stay together – Always swim with an adult

When swimming outdoors you must always stay together. With younger children keep them within arms reach when in on or around the water.

  • Never go alone!
  • Tell a family member where you are going and when you will be back
  • Swimmers should always swim with an adult to ensure their safety.
  • By having an able adult to supervise them, swimmers will have an extra set of eyes watching for their safety and looking out for potential dangers.
  • Make sure you have the right equipment for your activity, for example a bright hat and tow float for outdoor swimming or buoyancy aids and the correct leash when paddleboarding, a whistle and mobile phone in a water proof pouch also help.

3. Float

If you fall into the water unexpectedly – float on your back until you can control your breathing. Then, either call for help or swim to safety.

4. Call 999

If you see someone in trouble, you must tell somebody or go to the nearest telephone and dial 999. Then ask for the Fire Service at inland water sites and the Coastguard at the beach. If you are at a swimming pool, you must tell the lifeguard.  Throw something that floats for the person to hold on to but don’t enter the water to help.


It is important to teach learners how to stay safe whilst swimming at a swimming pool and when swimming outdoors. The Learn to Swim Team have created posters that can help educate learners on how to stay safe in, on and around the water, as well as, the Awards learners in the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme to achieve.

They can be downloaded for free here or be purchased from the online shop here, where they will be already printed and laminated.