PEOPLE in Moray have been urged to stay safe near water this summer.
Scottish Water is reminding people to be wary near rivers, reservoirs and lochs.
Figures from the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) show that in 2012, 371 people drowned accidentally across the UK, of which 43 included children and young people up to the age of 19.
With 55% of the deaths taking place in inland waters including rivers, canals, lochs, lakes, streams, ponds and reservoirs, Scottish Water is keen to reinforce the safety message.
Steve Scott, Scottish Water’s regional communities team manager for Moray said: “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.
“We are reminding parents to keep their children safe and asking adults to act responsibly around watercourses.”
Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “During periods of hot weather and school holidays, there is often a rise in the number of accidental drownings, which is why it is important to be extra vigilant around inland waters, such as rivers, lakes, lochs, quarries and reservoirs.
“The water can be a lot colder than expected, which can lead to a swimmer going into cold shock; in the worst case, a swimmer will inhale water and the drowning process begins. There may also be strong currents and underwater debris that you cannot see from the bank, so don’t go alone, and consider how you are going to get out of the water before you get in - be honest about your swimming ability.”
People are encouraged to swim at properly supervised sites.
The majority of Scottish Water’s reservoirs are situated in remote locations, which means there is likely to be a lack of immediate assistance if someone gets into trouble.
For these reasons, and in the interests of public safety, Scottish Water does not encourage swimming or diving in any of its reservoirs.
Dogs also need to be kept on a lead if they are being walked near reservoirs and other bodies of open water, with many examples of owners jumping in if their pet gets into trouble. However, all too often the dog will get itself to safety while the owner will end up drowning.
An online education resource has been developed to provide young people with some key messages and this can be found at www.gosafescotland.com
Di Steer, chief executive of the Royal Life Saving Society UK, said: “If everyone stopped to think about basic water safety and made some small changes to their behaviour, we are sure we could reduce the number of preventable, accidental drownings that happen every year in the UK.”
For more information on safety, or how to get involved, visit the RLSS website at www.drowningpreventionweek.org.uk