A PLEA has been issued urging people to stay safe, behave responsibly, and not take risks at reservoirs, rivers, and lochs this summer.

It comes after Scottish Water reported incidents of anti-social and dangerous behaviour from groups of youths at reservoirs including Picketlaw in Eaglesham and Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire – which included vandalism, littering, and diving from water towers.

Figures from the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) show that in 2022, a total of 226 people lost their lives to accidental drowning in the UK, including 45 in Scotland.

Calling for people to stay safe around watercourses this summer, 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, it’s absolutely vital they stay safe at all times and behave responsibly.

“As a number of tragic deaths in Scotland in recent years have shown, safety is a serious issue in all bodies of water, including lochs, reservoirs and rivers.

“At reservoirs, 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.”

Barrhead News:

Scottish Water says that deep, cold water is particularly dangerous at reservoirs, while dams, steep banks, spillways, and underwater pipework can also present real hazards.

They also say since many of the publicly owned utility’s reservoirs are situated in remote locations, it can mean there is a lack of immediate assistance and mobile phone reception can be poor.

The water firm doesn’t encourage swimming in reservoirs. 

Backing Scottish Water's plea, The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) charity director, Lee Heard said: “Sadly we see a rise in accidental drownings during the summer months with 46% of accidental drownings in the UK occurring in June, July and August.

"It is vitally important that everyone has an understanding of water safety, especially as the weather warms up and we see the temperatures rise as we have in recent years.

“In 2022, 60% of accidental drownings occurred at inland water such as rivers, canals, lochs and lakes, reservoirs and quarries.

“It is vital that we share water safety messaging as we may see people wishing to cool off in the variety of waterways, however, just because the air temperature has increased does not mean the water temperature has; the water can remain extremely cold which results in dangers such as cold water shock when people enter the water. We know that with the right water safety knowledge, accidental drownings are avoidable.

“We want to ensure everyone can enjoy their summer break and being in or around water but be safe in the knowledge that they, and their children, have the skills and understanding about water safety, which could potentially save a life.”

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

"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."