Water Safety & Risk Perception for Young People

A screenshot of the RUADUMMY2 micro-site.

Visit the RUADUMMY satellite site: www.ruadummy2.org.uk


An understanding of risk can help us manage our lives. Young people need to understand the difference between danger and risk. By assessing the risks involved in a dangerous activity they can make informed choices about their actions. Concerned about the number of injuries amongst those most likely to engage in risk taking behaviour, RoSPA in partnership with The Environment Agency realised there was a need for free resources to assist young people in understanding risk taking behaviour in all aspects of their lives, the focus in this instance was primarily water safety.

Why have we produced this pack?

There are over 32,000 miles of river, 5,000 miles of canal and literally thousands of lakes and ponds in the UK. These locations are the most common place for people to drown, with over 300 deaths each year. Specific urban sites like canal basins, locks, millponds, millraces and drainage / navigation control sluices have a particularly high death toll.

Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death amongst young people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, after road traffic and fires.* Drowning accidents happen due to ignorance and disregard of danger, unrealistic idea of swimming ability, unfamiliar surroundings, and inability to save themselves or be rescued. There are also health risks associated with water, such as Weils disease.

What is the overall aim of the pack?

To increase the understanding of hazard and risk, and how to apply this in real life situations. To reduce the number of drowning and severe accidents which have a long-term impact on quality of life.  In addition the pack aims help young people understand the difference between dangerous situation and a positive risk taking situation, it also aims give young people the skills to be able to walk away from a dangerous situation.

Who is the pack for?

The core target audience for the pack is 12 to 16 year olds, this group is considered to be particularly at risk from injury or drowning. The materials on the CD and in the pack are designed to create discussion about risk taking behaviour, and as such will be useful for older teenagers. There is a sister publication available for 7 to 11 year olds.

The pack contents are designed to help teachers, youth workers, volunteers, outdoor centres and anyone else who might organise and work with young people.

What does the pack contain?

  • Video CD scenarios of risk taking situations
  • Adult leaders notes
  • Handouts and supporting material

How effective has the pack been?

So far, RoSPA and The Environment Agency has distributed just under 6500 packs to a wide range of organisations, groups and schools across the country. All of these are as a result of a request for a pack (non of the packs have been sent out without request). The initial feedback RoSPA received, indicated that a pack was viewed by an average of 15 people, based upon this a conservative estimate of 100,000 young people have used the pack, or been in a workshop across the UK.


We are currently re-evaluating the R U A Dummy2? packs with a view to developing a new and improved version. We would appreciate your views on the pack, and how best we can improve these resources in the future. An electronic version of the Evaluation Form (PDF 148kb) is available to download and fax or post back to RoSPA.

How much does the pack cost?

Nothing, the pack is free. Cost of the development has been split between RoSPA and The Environment Agency. Although you could consider making a donation to help further our work in this area.

How do I order the pack?

From August 2006 the R U A Dummy2? packs will primarily be supported from our micro-site - www.ruadummy2.org.uk. The site has all the resources previously only available on the CD to download. We will only be distributing one CD pack per organisation until the remaining packs are depleted.

*Data source: ONS ICD coding of deaths 2001

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Leisure Safety
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