As schools across Fife prepare for the summer holidays, youngsters and parents are being reminded to play it safe around rivers, reservoirs, lochs and streams.
Anne Marie Dewar, Scottish Water’s Regional Communities Manager for the kingdom is concerned people may be risking their lives as they cool off:
“While it’s important that youngsters enjoy their school holidays and that people across Scotland take pleasure in the country’s beautiful lochs, rivers and reservoirs, it’s also vital that they stay safe.
“Already this year we’ve seen temperatures soaring and hopefully there’s more sunny weather on the way over the next couple of months. We don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, but we are reminding parents to keep their children safe, and asking adults to act responsibly around watercourses.”
That’s a message which is being reiterated by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
Peter Cornall, RoSPA‘s head of leisure safety, said: “RoSPA promotes the idea that life should be as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. We want people to get out and about, including enjoying the water. Swimming at a properly-supervised site, such as a beach, lido or swimming pool is the best option, although RoSPA understands that not everyone is able to go to these locations.”
Be aware of hidden dangers
Reservoirs are man made features and because of their purpose, they have a number of unique hidden dangers. These relate mainly to built structures such as dams, spillways (overflows) and water intakes (underwater pipe work that takes water out of the reservoir) and the effects of these. For your own safety you should keep away from all man made structures.
Other hidden dangers found at reservoirs include deep cold water (even on a hot day), underwater plant life and steep banks. For these reasons and in the interests of our customers’ health and safety, Scottish Water does not encourage swimming or diving in any of our reservoirs.
Peter Cornall added:
“If you choose to go to an unsupervised location to swim you should have the skills to assess the many water hazards and know what to do if anyone gets into difficulty. Remember that even on a hot day, the water might be a lot colder than you were expecting and there may be strong currents and underwater debris that you cannot see from the bank. Be honest about your swimming ability and remember that alcohol and swimming do not mix. Children should never swim alone at unsupervised locations.”
Each year, there are more accidental drowning deaths in inland waters than in any other type of water.
Keep the kids safe
Children are another group most at risk in such accidents. It is vital parents explain the dangers to their children. Adults themselves should set a good example. Even strong swimmers could quickly succumb to waters which may be colder than they look.
Anne Marie continued:
“Natural hazards can also lurk beneath the surface, where children can get entangled in vegetation or stuck in mud. The majority of reservoirs are remote and so there is a lack of immediate assistance. Safety education is a priority – please play safe this summer.”
Protect your pets
How to protect your pets
During the summer holidays people are also more likely to seek exercise, both for themselves and their family pet. They are more likely to visit such sites during warm, sunny conditions.
One of the biggest concerns with dog owners is when their pet dives in, chasing a ball or stick. The pet more often survives such incidents, but the owners, who have attempted to save them, do not.
Dogs need to be kept on a lead if they are being walked near reservoirs and other bodies of open water.
Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said:
“Extra care should always be taken when your dog is near water. Generally speaking, dogs are good swimmers, but strong currents or fast moving water can result in an animal getting into difficulty.
“We are often called to rescue exhausted animals from rivers and canals after they have jumped in and are unable to get back out.
“The safest approach is to keep your dog on the lead near water.”
If customers would like more information they can contact our Customer Helpline on 0845 601 8855.