Scottish Water is urging people to stay safe and not take risks around rivers, reservoirs and lochs this summer.
The utility is also calling on children and parents to take particular care during the summer holidays and any spells of warm weather we might enjoy.
The latest figures from the National Water Safety Forum show that, in 2017, a total of 255 people lost their lives to unintentional drowning in the UK, 46 of which were in Scotland.
Scottish Water is continuing with its social media campaign #ReservoirSafety and again has a video available to highlight the importance of reservoir safety, which can be viewed at www.scottishwater.co.uk/reservoirvideo or on YouTube https://youtu.be/q_4BbccmyrM
The utility’s call for people to stay safe in and around water has been echoed by Olympic and Commonwealth Games swimmer Duncan Scott, who is leading Scottish Swimming’s Learn to Swim campaign which is supported by Scottish Water.
Duncan, who won six medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, said: “I think the Learn to Swim programme is helping to spread awareness about water safety across Scotland in addition to helping thousands of kids learn to swim.
“We are surrounded by coastline and thousands of lochs, rivers and reservoirs so it is incredibly important that people, including youngsters, are able to swim and are safe whenever and wherever they swim.”
Peter Farrer, Scottish Water’s chief operating officer, said: “While everyone should enjoy their school holidays or take pleasure in the country’s beautiful lochs, rivers and reservoirs, it’s absolutely vital that they stay safe at all times.
“Safety is a serious issue as, while the water may look harmless, there are many hidden dangers. We need to ensure children, and parents, are aware of these hazards. We are reminding parents to keep their children safe and asking adults to act responsibly around watercourses.”
Dams, steep banks, spillways (overflows), deep cold water and underwater pipe work can present real hazards at reservoirs. And the majority of Scottish Water’s reservoirs are situated in remote locations, meaning there is a lack of immediate assistance and mobile reception can be poor.
Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer for RoSPA Scotland, said: “One of the main dangers of open water is cold water shock, when the low temperature of water will affect the body’s normal functions and lead to someone getting into trouble. It can even affect the most confident swimmers. It’s important to remember that, even if it’s a hot day, the water can still be cold – it only needs to be 15 degrees or lower for cold water shock to kick in.”
Scottish Water is one of 10 partners involved in the Go Safe Scotland online education resource www.gosafescotland.com that has been developed to provide young people in Scotland with a variety of key safety messages, one of which is water safety.
The utility is also actively involved in promoting water safety in schools throughout the country and would encourage all teachers in Scotland to sign up to the free online Go Safe Scotland education resource, which is designed to enable teachers to provide water safety education linked to the Curriculum for Excellence.
Scottish Water’s advice is also targeted at pet owners. One of the biggest concerns with dog owners is when their pet dives into water, chasing a ball or stick. The pet more often survives such incidents, but the owners, who have attempted to save them, sometimes don’t. Dogs need to be kept on a lead if they are being walked near reservoirs and other bodies of open water.
Meanwhile, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the UK’s Drowning Prevention Charity, has teamed up with the RNLI this year to issue their Water Safety Code, ahead of their Drowning Prevention Week campaign which runs from June 15 to 25.
Kenny Macdermid, Volunteer & Community Operations Manager for RLSS UK, said: “We know that drowning accidents are especially high in the summer months, we’re also aware that drowning forms a disproportionately high percentage of this tragic and preventable, loss of life across Scotland.
“Water Safety Scotland’s national drowning prevention strategy was launched in January, and aims to educate and inform people from all walks of life, on how to enjoy the water but stay safe at the same time. The Water Safety Code, is a simple way to remember these key messages.
“We hope that by encouraging people to spread water safety advice throughout our Drowning Prevention Week and beyond, we can help to avoid further tragic loss of life this summer.”
Scottish Water and Scottish Swimming have joined forces to help more than 100,000 children across the country learn to swim.
With 40% of children unable to swim by the time they leave primary school, the three-year Learn to Swim programme, which is part of the National Framework for Swimming in Scotland, and Duncan Scott is its ambassador.
Scottish Water is delighted that so many children are learning to swim and that this will give them the confidence and skills to be safer in the water, whether at their local swimming pool, at the beach on holiday or if they are around Scotland’s many miles of coastline, rivers, and lochs.
With the water safety message being conveyed across the country, communities throughout Scotland are being asked to help shape water and waste water services in a nationwide consultation – Shaping the Future – which can be completed online at www.yourwater.scot
If Scottish Water customers would like more information they can contact Scottish Water’s Customer Helpline on 0800 0778778 or www.scottishwater.co.uk/takecare.
For more information on RoSPA visit their website at www.rospa.com.
For more information of the RLSS UK and its Drowning Prevention Week visit www.rlss.org.uk/water-safety/drowning-prevention-week/.