Stay safe around water this summer

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Scottish Water is urging people to stay safe and not take risks around rivers, reservoirs and lochs this summer.

The utility giant is 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 Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) show that, in 2014, a total of 303 people lost their lives to drowning in the UK, 40 of which were in Scotland.

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. 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.

Christie Burnett, community safety development officer for RoSPA Scotland, said: “It is important to be vigilant around areas of inland water, such as rivers, lakes, lochs, quarries and reservoirs, particularly during the summer when children are on school holidays.

“The water can be much colder than we would expect and could lead to cold water shock; debris and currents in the water that cannot be seen from the bank could also lead to drowning. We do not want children to stop having fun around waterways but it is crucial they understand the risks and, if they are planning on entering the water, they know how to get back out.”

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.

Scottish Water 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.

George Cairns, the chair of Go Safe Scotland, said: “Water Safety is a key priority for the Go Safe Scotland partnership. Teachers have an important role to play in promoting the water safety message to children as they break up for their well-deserved holidays.”

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), the drowning prevention charity, is running its Drowning Prevention Week campaign from June 18 to 26.

The Royal Life Saving Society’s Deputy Director of Education and Research, Mike Dunn, said: “As the drowning prevention charity, we work tirelessly to prevent needless drowning through education and awareness but we can’t do it alone and appreciate Scottish Water helping us to save lives.

“Most people drown in inland waters and one person dies every 20 hours in the UK on average. We want to prevent as many of these tragedies as we can.”

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.