Water safety expert make plea to prioritise 'safety over selfies'

The call comes amid a rise in water-related emergencies during the summer months.

Water safety expert make plea to prioritise ‘safety over selfies’ this summer SFRS

Water sport enthusiasts have been sent an urgent plea to prioritise “safety over selfies” this summer.

As the temperatures rise, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service see an increase in water-based tragedies and emergencies.

Piotr Gudan, an on call firefighter with SFRS, splits his time between responding via pager to emergencies and running his own water sports business.

The dad-of-one has been a qualified water sports instructor for over 20 years and has amplified calls for safety following a rise in water-based emergencies in the summer.

While temperatures may appear hot, Scottish waters remain extremely cold all year and can present a serious threat to even the strongest of swimmers.

Mr Gudan said: “Even for experienced and trained people, when things go wrong in the water it can be scary, things can go wrong at any time to any of us.

“We are spoiled for choice with scenery in Scotland, but it’s vital to remember that the water is always significantly colder than it feels on land.”

The call is addressed to those seeking to enjoy water based activities including kayaking, paddle boarding and swimming.

Mr Gudan continued: “In recent years many more people have taken up activities like paddle boarding. Sadly, we do often see instances of people who haven’t fully read the instructions and enter the water in very vulnerable dinghies.

“Not all accidents are preventable, but many can be prevented through having the right equipment and through accessing some of the brilliant training resources which are available online and through local clubs.”

Mr Gudan explained how some very simple steps can reduce your risk on the water significantly.

He said: “You don’t have to become a semi-professional paddle boarder or kayaker, but by speaking with a local water sports club or by doing your research, you can help keep yourself safe. Many professional organisations are more than happy to help.

“You should always wear a buoyancy aid, have a fully charged mobile phone within a water-proof pouch, and, ideally, be part of a larger group. If you are alone, let someone know where you are going and what time you will be back.

“But most importantly, do your research and never put yourself in a risky situation – it’s not worth it. Consider everything and be prepared for anything.”

The warning comes after VisitScotland recently launched water safety campaign demonstrating the depth of Scottish lochs in comparison to the height of iconic global landmarks.

Loch Morar which takes the crown for the deepest loch in Scotland, and the third deepest in Europe, has been compared to The Shard – the tallest skyscraper in the UK.

Loch Ness, the second deepest in Scotland, is about 745ft at its deepest point – almost the same as The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco at 746ft.

Water Safety Scotland has recently published a bespoke safety code for kayakers and canoers. The organisation has also published essential guidance for paddle boarders.

Information for remaining safe in and around water is also available on the SFRS website

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