Firefighters Back Drowning Prevention Week

Royal Life Saving Society UK campaign runs from 18 to 26 June

Firefighters have joined calls for people to stay safe around water.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews are frequently called to emergencies where someone has gotten into difficulty on rivers, canals and lochs throughout the country.

While firefighters always do what they can to save lives, they know their specialist skills are not always enough.

Around 400 people drown in the UK every year and the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) launched Drowning Prevention Week to make people aware of the dangers and support schools, clubs and leisure centres working to avoid needless tragedies.

It has created activity packs with a video, a lesson plan and guide for educators, which are available on the SFRS website at www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/water-safety/schools-and-community-groups-resources.aspx.

Assistant Chief Officer Robert Scott, the SFRS director of prevention and protection, said: “Scotland enjoys some the most beautiful rivers, lochs, canals and reservoirs in the UK and every year thousands of people visit to enjoy them.

“We want everyone who comes to these spots to have a great time and not experience a tragedy.”

He continued: “It’s important to remember water can pose risks.

“By looking out for hazards, following advice and signs, never swimming alone and knowing what to do if an emergency does happen, people can help keep themselves and others safe.

“It’s also vital that parents talk to children about safety if they could be playing near to water.”

Waterways can look very calm on the surface but have strong undercurrents or hidden objects lying beneath, which could easily trap someone or cause serious injury.

Open water can also become very cold just a few feet under the surface and can cause cramps or cold water shock.

Very cold temperatures affect stamina and a person could find their strength and ability to swim deteriorate rapidly, much faster than would be the case in a heated pool.

It is also important that people never enter the water if they are under the influence of alcohol, as doing so could be a fatal mistake.

Above: Firefighters conduct water rescue training – SFRS crews are often needed to help people who have gotten into difficulty in the water.

Above: A firefighter uses a safety line to withstand strong underwater currents during water rescue training – showing the risks of entering open water.

Above: Assistant Chief Officer Robert Scott, the SFRS director of prevention and protection, called on people to avoid risking needless tragedies.

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