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Public Reminded of Water Safety as Water Deaths Rise

Life Saver Water Safety Rescue  - designermikele / Pixabay
designermikele / Pixabay

Residents of Highland Perthshire and across the UK are being urged to stay safe around the water this summer as 277 deaths from accidental drowning were recorded in 2021, with 58 being in Scotland.

The total number of deaths in water across the UK increased by 15 last year up from 601 to 616, with 105 occurring in Scotland.  Figures from the National Water Safety Forum show that 62 per cent of registered deaths from water happen at inland open water sights such as rivers, lochs and quarries.

Carlene McAvoy, Water Safety Scotland’s Data Subgroup Chair, said: “Unfortunately we have seen an increase in water-related fatalities from the average number usually seen in Scotland.

“The recent figures for accidental water-related fatalities show a 16 per cent increase in comparison to the SDPS baseline – bringing accidental water-related fatalities to their highest point for the last five years.”

While it can be tempting to take a swim in a river or loch to cool off, Scottish Fire and Rescue are urging people to avoid this as swimming in unsupervised open water can be extremely dangerous.

Open water can become very cold just a few feet under the surface causing cramps or Cold Water Shock, both of which will affect your stamina, causing your strength and ability to swim to deteriorate rapidly.

As well as the risk of Cold Water Shock from open water, you are also at risk of strong undercurrents or unseen objects, even when the surface looks calm.

It is especially important to stay out the water if you have been drinking. Statistic have shown that Saturday nights have the highest number of drownings and that most victims are under the influence of alcohol.

Scottish Fire and Rescue’s Water Safety page features a list of tips for staying safe round the water if you have been drinking.

  • Open water can become very cold just a few feet under the surface and can cause cramps or Cold Water Shock
  • Alcohol will impair judgement and control
  • It’s likely to be dark and night time so fewer people to see you in distress
  • Stay with your group and don’t wander off if you become separated
  • Keep an eye on any friends who are worse for wear and make sure you help them home
  • Avoid walking near water even if the path is lit, you may not realise how unsteady on your feet you are
  • In the dark you may not see trip hazards of even the waters edge
  • If you fall in after drinking your chances of being able get out of the water are decreased as alcohol impairs even simple movements
  • Make sure you store a taxi number in your phone and some emergency money at home so you can pay. If the money is at home you can’t lose it or accidentally spend it.

More information can be found on https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/outdoors/water-safety/

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