Water safety hazards in Stirling highlighted as Summer approaches

Stirling Council is urging the public to stay safe around open water this summer as Drowning Prevention Week (DPW) gets underway.

Cllr Jen Preston is joined at the River Teith with partners from Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, Active Stirling, Stirling Council and McLaren High School
Cllr Jen Preston is joined by Stirling Council officers along with representatives from Police Scotland, Scottish FRS, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, Active Stirling & McLaren High School

While Stirling remains home to some of the country’s most beautiful lochs, rivers and reservoirs, they contain hidden hazards that can be fatal to even experienced swimmers. According to the UK Royal Life Saving Society, 47% of accidental drownings happen between May and August.

An average of 50 people also lose their lives in accidental drownings in Scotland. Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy aims to reduce the number of accidental deaths by 50 per cent by 2026.

'Awareness of hidden risks'

Stirling Council Environment, Transport and Net Zero Convener, Cllr Jen Preston said: “It’s tragic when we see heartbreaking stories of people losing their lives from drowning in open water at this time of year.

“Each life lost to drowning is a preventable tragedy and we must ensure that people are aware of the risks that lie beneath the surface of our waters this summer.

“It’s understandable on hot days that a dip in a river, reservoir or loch would be tempting. However we must learn from the tragedies of recent years and reinforce the message to take care around the water.

“Excellent work has been going on in our schools to alert children and young people to the dangers of open water but I would urge parents, carers and guardians to reinforce the seriousness of water safety to minimise risks ahead of the summer break.”

Stirling Council’s public safety partners are supporting this important message during Drowning Prevention Week and encouraging people to follow the Water Safety Code.

Quotes from key public safety partners:

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Station Commander and Chair of Water Safety Scotland, James Sullivan said: "It's imperative anyone entering water is fully aware of the risks - some of which cannot be seen.

"It may be hot on land, but Scottish waters remain cold all year round and the threat of cold water shock is there throughout the year. Cold water shock can take hold instantly and impact even the strongest swimmers.

"We would strongly advise everyone to familiarise themselves with the Water Safety Code before even contemplating entering water. Entering water before being aware of the risks often leads to tragic results."

Inspector Andy Bushell said: "Stirlingshire has lots of beauty spots with open bodies of water and as such it's important our communities know how to keep themselves safe when around these locations. 

"Many open water areas have hidden hazards underneath the surface and we've seen all too often the tragic consequences when someone gets into difficulty and is unable to overcome these difficulties. 

"Police Scotland work closely with key partners to promote water safety and prevent drowning incidents. I would ask anyone planning to spend time around open water to view the safety information available on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website."

Leigh Hamilton, Ranger Service Manager at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, said: “We know that there are real risk factors here in the lochs and water bodies of the National Park so we are continuing to work with local authorities and emergency services on a range of measures to address these risks and ensure people know how to keep themselves safe.

“National Park Rangers carry out daily patrols both on the ground and on the water, speaking to visitors about enjoying the water responsibly. New water safety signage and public rescue equipment has been installed at key visitor sites.  We are helping teach young people about water safety in schools close to the National Park and have a programme of water safety pop-up events taking place this summer to share advice with visitors. 

“Our Rangers have also delivered waterside responder training to more than 15 businesses in the National Park to ensure staff at lochside businesses know how to help anyone they see in trouble in the water.”