Stay Safe Around Watercourses This Summer

11 June 2021

Respect Protect Enjoy

Have fun and enjoy our reservoirs but always remember to act responsibly

“Safety is a serious issue at reservoirs as, while the water may look harmless, there are many hidden dangers”

Peter Farrer
Chief Operating Officer, Scottish Water
Scottish Water is urging people to stay safe, behave responsibly and not take risks around watercourses such as reservoirs, rivers and lochs this summer.

The latest figures from the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) show that, in 2020, a total of 254 people lost their lives to unintentional drowning in the UK, of which 39 were in Scotland.

Peter Farrer, Scottish Water’s chief operating officer, said: “While people should enjoy any good weather we have and take pleasure around the country’s beautiful lochs, reservoirs and rivers as the Covid-19 restrictions ease - following any Scottish Government guidelines in place at the time - it’s absolutely vital they stay safe at all times and behave responsibly.

“Safety is a serious issue at reservoirs as, while the water may look harmless, there are many hidden dangers. We need to ensure everyone is aware of these hazards. We are reminding parents to keep their children safe and asking adults to act responsibly around reservoirs and other watercourses.”

Deep, cold water is a particular danger at reservoirs, which are working parts of Scottish Water’s infrastructure. Dams, steep banks, spillways (overflows) and underwater pipework can also present real hazards.

The publicly-owned utility’s reservoirs are situated in remote locations, meaning there is a lack of immediate assistance and mobile phone reception can be poor.

In the interests of public safety, Scottish Water does not encourage swimming in its reservoirs.

Its reservoir safety advice is also targeted at pet owners. One of the biggest concerns with dog owners is when their pet dives into 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 under control if they are being walked near reservoirs and other bodies of open water.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is backing Scottish Water’s advice and wants everyone to enjoy water safely.

RLSS UK’s annual Drowning Prevention Week runs from June 19 to 26 and encourages everyone to do their bit to ensure the UK’s accessible waterways, are fun and secure places for everyone to take pleasure in.

Lee Heard, the RLSS UK’s Charity Director, said: “As lockdown lifts and the weather improves, we expect the public to head out into the great outdoors for a change of scenery and the chance to reconnect with friends, family and the activities they love.

“But with venues being shut for so long, people young and old have missed out on vital swimming and water safety lessons, with regular participants also finding that their abilities may have been reduced.

“RLSS UK believes that drowning is preventable and we can all take simple steps to help keep ourselves safe in, on and around the water. Learning to enjoy water safely before you set out is a vital part of having a great day out, living the moments and making memories to last a lifetime.”

Also supporting Scottish Water’s call, Carlene McAvoy, Leisure Safety Manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “As Covid-19 restrictions across Scotland have eased for the summer, it’s important to plan ahead if you are going to the beach or any of Scotland’s wonderful inland waterways.

“Make sure you consider all the possible dangers of being near the water such as cold water shock. If you see someone in the water in trouble when you are out and about, please make sure you call 999 or 112.”

Alasdair Perry, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Deputy Assistant Chief Officer, added: “We want people to have an enjoyable time during the warmer months, but safety is our top priority, and it is extremely important that we remind the public about staying safe near the water.

“What might start as a harmless dip can have tragic consequences if the proper advice isn’t followed. Although it might seem warm enough, open water can be very cold and cause cold water shock that can be deadly. It’s also often impossible to know what hazards lie below the surface of the water.

“Unfortunately, and particularly during the warmer months, our water rescue crews can often respond to emergency calls from people in difficulty.”

Scottish Water is also ramping up its campaign to encourage responsible behaviour while visiting Scotland’s reservoirs.

Our #RespectOurReservoirs video highlights the importance of not only water safety, but how visitors can play their part in helping to protect the natural environment. For example by taking their litter home and leaving no trace.