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Scottish Water has issued warnings to its customers in Moray to take care when playing or spending time near water this summer.
As the weather grows warmer and school holidays begin, many of Scotland’s residents will be flocking towards open waters like rivers, canals, lochs, lakes and streams for the summer activities. The country”s leading water provider Scottish Water is warning all families, children and young people to take care when playing, camping or walking nearby these water sources.
“We are reminding parents to keep their children safe and asking adults to act responsibly around watercourses,”
said Steve Scott, Scottish Water’s regional communities team manager for Moray.
“While its important that people take pleasure in the country’s beautiful lochs, rivers and reservoirs, it’s also vital that they stay safe.”
The warning comes after figures from the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) showed that a total 371 people died of drowning in 2012. 43 of these were children and young people 19 and under.
Even more worrying was the fact that over half of these deaths (55%) occurred in inland waters such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers and reservoirs – the very waters that many Scottish people will be visiting this summer.
Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer at the Royal Society for the prevention of accidents (RoSPA) described the different outcomes of someone accidentally falling into an inland water source. She said that the water can often be “colder than expected”, causing swimmers to go into “cold shock”. In a worst case scenario, a swimmer will inhale water, which then starts the drowning process.
“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,”
she said. She advises summer swimmers to not go into the water alone as strong currents and underwater debris are not always visible from the bank. She also urges people to be honest about their swimming ability, and be sure of how they will get out of the water before they get in.
Scottish authorities have assigned designated swimming spots where residents of Moray can swim safely under specialised supervision. This means that help is more likely to be immediately on hand should a swimmer get into trouble, unlike in remote areas where swimmers will be secluded.
People are also encouraged to keep their pets and livestock safe from open water, and keeping dogs on a lead. There have been many cases in which dogs have been capable of getting themselves to safety, while their owner that jumped in after them, meanwhile, has drowned.