SCOTTISH Water is warning the Angus public to play safe near the area’s watercourses this winter.
Anne-Marie Dewar, Scottish Water’s Regional Community Manager, is advising customers that they should remain vigilant and not take any risks around freezing cold bodies of water.
She said: “We don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, but we are reminding parents to keep their children safe and asking adults to act responsibly around watercourses. Don’t wander too near the edge because you could slip and fall in. Dogs also need to be kept on a lead if they are being walked near reservoirs and other bodies of open water.
“While it’s important that youngsters enjoy their school holidays and that people across Scotland take pleasure in the country’s beautiful lochs, rivers and reservoirs, it is also vital that they stay safe.”
The warnings are being backed by both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) and the Scottish SPCA.
Carlene McAvoy, Scotland’s community safety development officer for RoSPA whose remit includes water safety, said that while snow and ice may be attractive to most children, the organisation is emphasising the dangers that wintry conditions can present.
She said: “RoSPA wants youngsters to get out, have fun and play safely, and the best way for them to do that is if parents talk to their children about the hazards of playing on frozen water and what to do if they or their friends get into trouble.
“Every year, people die from falling through ice into a frozen river or loch - something that is easily preventable. Tragedy often strikes when they are trying to rescue someone else or a dog, which was the case in more than half of the 20 ice-related drownings in recent years.
“RoSPA’s advice is to take care around the edges of lochs and rivers because snow can obscure them, and we recommend that dogs are kept on a lead so they do not run out on to the ice. Frozen water may look tempting, but there is no way of knowing whether the ice will hold your weight and it’s often too late by the time you find out that it won’t.”
Deputy Chief Constable Andy Cowie, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) lead on Search and Rescue, stressed the need for a common sense approach and for parents and carers to take time to explain the dangers to their children.
He said: “All of the agencies want to see our countryside and our waterways being enjoyed at this time of year, but we need to stress the hidden dangers to everyone so that they can make sensible decisions.
“Holiday periods are always a busy time for all the emergency services and for the volunteers who support us. With over 37,000 separate stretches of inland water in Scotland, many of which are remote, help will often be some considerable time away.
“The best advice is to be aware of the dangers, think about the risks and plan to minimise them.”
Further information is available by contacting Scottish Water’s Customer Helpline on 0845 601 8855 or on the company’s website at www.scottishwater.co.uk/takecare.