RoSPA research shows men aged 60-69 are most at risk of accidental drowning in Scotland


Every year an average of 50 people accidentally drown in Scotland, with men aged 60-69 being most at risk, according to a RoSPA assessment of data.

The charity has produced a new report, Accidental Drowning Fatalities in Scotland: Males aged 60-69, which provides an analysis of data from the Water Incident Database (WAID) – a collation of drowning cases from across the UK compiled by the National Water Safety Forum – to give a clearer picture of the Scottish problem.

The statistics show that during the past five years there were 35 water-related fatalities of males in that age group in Scotland, and of those 35, 80 per cent were identified as accidental. The average age of accidental fatalities within the group was 65.

When looking at the activity prior to the fatality, recreational water activities was a high contributing factor. Swimming, sailing and angling accounted for almost 6 in 10 of accidental fatalities, with angling being the highest at 44 per cent. In 14 per cent of the cases, alcohol is suspected. It was found that exactly half of the fatalities were classified as “local”, while almost half of those who died were alone prior to the incident.

This analysis has revealed a number of key points regarding 60 to 69-year-old males:

  • There were 35 fatalities during the five-year period

  • Accidental drownings accounted for 80 per cent of this figure

  • The average age of a fatality was 65

  • Half of the accidental fatalities happened at the coast

  • More than one third of incidents happened in spring. Thursdays and Saturdays were the most common day for a fatality

  • 90 per cent of fatalities happened during the daytime

  • Approximately 6 in 10 accidental fatalities were the result of recreational water activities

  • Angling is the leading cause of recreational drowning fatalities

  • Alcohol was suspected in 14 per cent of cases

  • Around half of the fatalities were alone prior to the incident

  • Exactly half of the fatalities were classified as local.

Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer for RoSPA, said: “We hope this research will make males aged 60-69 more aware of the risks of drowning.

“It provides a good insight into certain behaviours and has the potential to help in future campaigns and projects.”

The report follows the launch of the Water Safety Scotland Drowning Prevention Strategy in January, which RoSPA produced with the RNLI and Royal Life Saving Society UK, and which aims to reduce the number of accidental drowning deaths in the country by half by 2026.

To see “Accidental Drowning Fatalities in Scotland: Males aged 60-69”, visit

For an infographic of the statistics, visit

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