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 2016, a total of 300 people lost their lives to unintentional drowning in the UK, 52 of which were in Scotland.
Scottish Water has launched a 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 at https://youtu.be/xj4qR5Ct_rA
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.
Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer for RoSPA Scotland, said: “The number of deaths show just how important it is to be vigilant around areas of inland water, particularly during the summer when children are on school holidays.
“And that’s not just for those planning on going swimming – a large number of those who drown accidentally never intend to be in the water in the first place.
“The water can be much colder than expected, even on warm days, and could lead to cold water shock, which can mean that even the strongest swimmers get into difficulties.”
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: “I would encourage all parents to make themselves and their children aware of the water safety code. My team will also be working closely with Scottish Water and local authorities throughout Scotland to encourage every teacher in every community to deliver water safety lessons before the summer break.”
Scottish Water’s advice is also targeted at pet owners. One of the biggest concerns with dog owners is when their pet dives into the 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 16 to 26.
Mike Dunn, the RLSS’s Deputy Director of Education and Research, said: “Drowning accidents are especially high in the summer months and over the last few years there have been too many tragedies that could have been prevented.
“Every year people drown, both at home and on holiday because they don’t take simple precautions. So, understanding how to enjoy the water safely is vital.
“We hope that by encouraging people to spread water safety advice throughout our Drowning Prevention Week, we can help to avoid another tragic summer this year.”
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/.