Action plan to help cut water deaths around Scotland's beauty spots

The Water Safety Action Plan has been launched as we head into the lighter nights and warmer months.

An action plan has been launched to help improve safety around Scotland’s waters following a number of tragic deaths.

As well as extra funding, new measures include improved signs, lesson plans for school pupils, and training on how to use rescue equipment.

The scheme has been revealed as we head into the lighter nights and warmer months, and follows a spate of drownings last summer.

In the space of a week last July, seven people died in water-related incidents, including four children aged nine, 11, 13 and 16.

The Water Safety Action Plan – drawn up by the Scottish Government and a range of key organisations – was launched on Friday at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

Community safety minister Ash Regan.
Balloch: Community safety minister Ash Regan.

Community safety minister Ash Regan, who chaired the stakeholder group, said: “The Scottish Government takes water safety very seriously and this action plan includes a range of key steps agreed with our partners to further mitigate the risks from Scotland’s coastal and inland waters.

“Scotland’s beaches, rivers, reservoirs and lochs are amongst our finest natural resources, but beautiful as they are they can be a source of lethal danger and we continue to see the tragic consequences of that.

“The actions in the plan are targeted at creating a safer environment in Scotland. But whether it’s sailing, swimming, diving or fishing, anyone undertaking recreational activities in and around water must be fully aware of the risks and take every possible precaution.”

The Water Safety Action Plan launched on Friday.
Scotland: The Water Safety Action Plan launched on Friday.

Partners on the Water Safety Stakeholder Group have agreed a key range of actions including:

  • New water safety promotions targeted at areas with a higher risk of drowning, improved signage at popular locations including lochs and reservoirs, and a risk assessment of beaches.
  • Additional funding of £60,000 for Water Safety Scotland to develop its coordination role for all organisations with an interest in water safety.
  • Rollout of a drowning incident review scheme to ensure lessons are learned from all fatal and non-fatal incidents.
  • Lesson plans on water safety for pupils.
  • Continued development of the National Learn to Swim Framework delivered with local authorities.
  • Scotland’s Water Safety Code developed to ensure consistency of public messages on key issues including hidden hazards and cold water shock.
  • Training for businesses and the public on how to use rescue equipment and review of 999 procedures.

Michael Avril, chair of Water Safety Scotland, said: “We would like to thank the minister for taking a proactive approach to the prevention of drownings in Scotland.

“The release of this action plan – created in partnership with member organisations – compliments Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy.

“Today, we have published the interim review of the strategy and we are hopeful this, combined with the action plan and increased collaboration from partners, will help Scotland meet its key targets to reduce accidental drowning fatalities by 50% by 2026 and contribute to reduction of water-related suicide.”

For more information on how to stay safe in and around Scotland’s waters, click here.

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