Drowning Prevention Week 2023 runs from 17 to 24 June and The Highland Council is reminding tourists and residents alike about the dangers which exist and how to stay safe.
The Highlands is home to some of the most beautiful stretches of water and coastline in the UK.
Visitors to Highland are spoiled for choice when it comes to water and scenery, with destinations like Loch Ness, Loch Morar, Loch Morlich, Loch Maree and a host of stunning beaches on the north, east and west coasts.
However, with such an availability of water comes the associated risks if care is not taken.
Drowning Prevention Week 2023 presents an opportunity to prioritise water safety, raise awareness, and prevent drowning incidents.
By actively participating in this crucial initiative, we can all contribute to saving lives in and around water environments where risk exist, even in the most seemingly tranquil areas of water.
Highland Council Leader, Cllr Raymond Bremner, said:
“We are very lucky here in Highland to have some of the most stunning beaches, rivers, lochs and burns (streams) anywhere in the UK.
“However, dangers still exist around any stretch of water, and we are encouraging people to take all precautions.
“Water may look safe, but it can be dangerous.
“It’s important to spot and keep away from dangers.”
“People may think they are able to swim very well, especially in a warm indoor pool, but that does not mean that you will be able to swim in cold water.
“That includes reservoirs, lochs, rivers, or the sea.
“We fully support Drowning Prevention Week, and its important Highland Council underlines the dangers which exist, especially as more and more people take to the water to pursue activities such as wild swimming, paddle boarding and simply to enjoy the good weather we’ve recently been experiencing.
“We have 5,000km of coastline that contains more water than any other Council area in Scotland with more than 640 named freshwater lochs, 784 contained rivers within 59 catchment areas as well as the Caledonian Canal and people should familiarise themselves with the dangers including tidal timetables and currents.”
The dangers of water include:
- Very cold temperatures
- Hidden currents
- It can be deep
- It is difficult to estimate depth
- There may be hidden rubbish or debris like shopping trolleys or broken glass
- It can be difficult to get out (steep slimy banks)
- Many areas of water have no lifeguards
- Special flags and notices may warn you of danger. Know what the signs mean and do what they tell you.
It’s important to go as a group and not alone.
Children especially should always go with an adult. An adult can point out dangers or help if somebody gets into trouble.
You can also teach yourself how to help.
You may be able to help yourself and others if you know what to do in an emergency.
If you see someone in difficulty, tell somebody, or go to the nearest telephone and dial 999, ask for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service at inland water sites and the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) if you are at the beach.
If you get into difficulty and need help or medical assistance, please follow these steps:
Phone the emergency services on 999.
When the operator asks which service, state: Police Scotland.
Provide accurate details of the incident and location (grid references are very useful) – if you are in remote location with difficult access, it is important to emphasise this.
The Police will assess the situation and send help.
Highland Council is right behind Water Safety Scotland and their call to support World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July 2023.
The Councils Water Safety Policy can be found here
Here you can check out Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy