First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described the deaths of three people, including a nine-year-old child, as “heartbreaking”.
Her comments come as police reported the deaths of a 41-year-old man, a 29-year-old woman and a nine-year-old boy after an incident in the water near Pulpit Rock, Loch Lomond, on Saturday evening.
A seven-year-old boy was rushed by ambulance to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, where he is currently in intensive care.
“This is heartbreaking – my thoughts and condolences are with the loved ones of those who have lost their lives in the water over the past couple of days.
“In Scotland, we have some of the most beautiful lochs and rivers in the world – but if swimming in them, please take care” Ms Sturgeon wrote.
This is heartbreaking – my thoughts and condolences are with the loved ones of those who have lost their lives in the water over the past couple of days.
In Scotland, we have some of the most beautiful lochs and rivers in the world – but if swimming in them, please take care. https://t.co/KmYWKFydSh
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 25, 2021
The latest tragedy brings the number of people who have died in Scotland after getting into difficulty in the water to five in just 24 hours.
An 11-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the scene after being found in the river at Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, on Saturday afternoon.
A 16-year-old boy died in the water at Balloch Country Park, at the south end of Loch Lomond, on Friday.
Warm weather can make open water swimming and paddling very inviting but it is extremely dangerous, even for the most experienced swimmers or supervised children” – Police Scotland
In a Sunday statement, Police Scotland highlighted the need for people to take extra care on the water.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said: “The number of deaths in open water this weekend is hard to comprehend and my thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those affected.
“The warm weather can make open water swimming and paddling very inviting but it is extremely dangerous, even for the most experienced swimmers or supervised children. The conditions can change very quickly and there are often hidden risks like deeper water and strong currents.”
Assistant Chief Constable Williams said that everyone using the water should be extremely cautious, and advised people to keep a safe distance from the water’s edge.
‘Respect the water’
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents RoSPA has urged the public to ‘respect the water’ after a surge in the number of accidental drownings already this summer during the heatwave.
The society’s unofficial tally from across the UK shows there were at least 26 fatal water incidents in the last fortnight since temperatures started to climb on Friday 6th July. Their tally doesn’t take into account Scotland’s weekend deaths.
“We know that that on a hot day, it can be tempting to cool off by going for a swim at inland water sites like reservoirs, lakes and quarries” says RoSPA’s David Walker.
“However, the water can be a lot colder than you were expecting and lead to cold water shock, which is when sudden immersion makes you gasp and lose control of your breathing and can lead to drowning.
“Consider how you are going to get out of the water before you get in, and be honest with yourself about your swimming ability.
Calls for more safety equipment in coastal areas
Earlier this week a teenage girl was rescued from the Firth of Forth when she got into difficulties swimming off the Dalgety Bay coast.
Although lifeboats and a rescue helicopter were called to the scene, it was 41-year-old Graham Mitchell who swam out and pulled the girl safely to shore.
Now he’s calling for more safety equipment to be made available in coastal areas.
“Whilst running out to the water, I was trying to find some sort of flotation device” he told us a few days after the rescue.
“It’s the only thing I remember thinking to myself on that run to the point was what can I grab here that could help and the short answer was nothing.
“From my point of view, the thing I desperately want to see out of this situation is I would love to see safety devices of some kind applied to the shore line.
Last weekend the Kinghorn RNLI were called out to three rescues involving people using inflatable equipment, including three children in a dinghy blown offshore at Aberdour.