Warning to stay safe around water over summer

The water may look inviting but caution is advised
The water may look inviting but caution is advised

A senior firefighter is today urging the public to take extra care when near open water.

Jim McNeil, who is the Local Senior Officer for Argyll and Bute, East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire, issued the appeal following a number of recent water related incidents across the country.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service regularly attends water rescues, particularly during the warmer months when people unexpectedly get into difficulty.

The scale of the risk has been revealed in latest figures that show one person in the UK drowns every 20 hours while hundreds more survive but with life-changing injuries.

LSO McNeil says education remains key in preventing water-related emergencies from arising in the first place, adding: “Unfortunately, and particularly during the warmer months, our water rescue crews can often respond to emergency calls from people in difficulty.

“While we want everyone to enjoy the summer, it’s important they do so in a safe and responsible manner.

“It can look appealing to go for a swim in a river or loch but strong undercurrents and unseen objects beneath the surface, such as rocks, are very real dangers.

“Furthermore, open water can become very cold just a few feet down, capable of causing cramps or even Cold Water Shock.

“This can affect stamina and ultimately someone’s ability to swim deteriorates rapidly.

“It’s also important to remember not to enter the water if you’ve been drinking alcohol – this can impair judgement and prevent someone from reaching safety.”

He finished: “Although we don’t want anyone to end up in a situation where they need our assistance, we are ready to respond to a range of different emergencies.

“I would urge everyone to please think carefully before entering the water.”

Extensive advice on water safety can be found on the SFRS website: http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/water-safety.aspx.