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Water safety

In recognition of the importance of water safety, the Council first introduced a water safety policy in 1998. The current Water Safety Policy was revised, updated and approved on 30 November 2021. The Council’s Water Safety Policy (PDF, 292kb) is available for you to view.

A risk assessment for each area of open water within public open spaces that are under Council ownership is complemented by an inspection regime of water safety signage and equipment.

Water safety signage and public rescue equipment (PRE) such as throw lines, have been installed at select waterside locations. If you discover any damaged signs or PRE, please let us know.

Report damaged water safety signs or rescue equipment

Water Safety Advice - Staying Safe Around Water

The best advice is:

  1. Keep a safe distance from the water's edge.
  2. Respect the Water. Know the hazards, Identify the risks.
  3. If you see anyone in difficulties, Phone 999, ask for:- Coastguard at Coastal locations and Fire & Rescue at Inland waters.

‘Stop and think of the dangers’

Open water can present significant risks that may vary in response to environmental changes, for example, the desire to swim in cold water on a hot day or the attraction to walk or skate on ice in the winter. It is not practical to deny access to all water nor is it necessary to erect barriers at all locations. The Council in its risk assessment of open water will take all ‘reasonable steps’ to protect people from danger.

There are many things to consider before you think about walking, playing or swimming near or in the water including:

  • the water may be very cold - even if the weather is warm. It is possible to go into thermal shock if your body temperature changes rapidly.  This can make it hard to breath and control yourself - even the strongest of swimmers can find swimming hard in these circumstances
  • there may be little indication as to how deep the water might be, although it could be shallow at the edges, much deeper water may be close to the water’s edge
  • it is not always possible to see what is underneath the water or on the waterbed. Sharp stones, broken glass or other objects could cause injuries
  • don’t jump into the water especially from height. It is easy to misjudge distances and hit hidden obstacles
  • swimming in open water is a very different experience to swimming in a pool. Unseen currents, cold water and waves (even in rivers and lochs) can make swimming much harder
  • if you do find yourself in difficulty in the water, try to relax and float until your body and breathing recover - then try to swim to the side
  • blue green algal blooms can affect many lochs and areas of still water during the summer, which can be harmful to both humans and animals
  • please keep off icy surfaces. Ice on water may be thin and patchy and easily broken.  It is rarely strong enough to support the weight of a pet or person
  • although dogs are good swimmers, they can get into difficulties in strong currents so keep them away from the water when rivers are high and never try to rescue them - they have a better chance of reaching safety

Further water safety advice and campaigns