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Water safety advice

Water looks inviting and particularly during warm weather it can be tempting to paddle or swim in, however there are many hidden dangers. Water edges can be slippery and currents, even at the edge can be very strong.

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

  • There may be little indication as to how deep the water might be, although it could be shallow at the edges, underwater shelves can result in much deeper water being very close to the waters edge.
  • It is not always possible to see what is on the bed of the loch or burn, sharp stones, broken glass or other objects could cause injuries. Never jump into the water especially from height, it is easy to misjudge distances and hit hidden obstacles.
  • The weather may be warm but the water may still be very cold.  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.  Float until your body and breathing recover then try to swim to the side. 
  • Many of our watercourses are controlled by dams upstream, and in these cases a small burn can rapidly become a fast flowing rapid if the dam releases water.
  • 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.
  • 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 so always keep off ice..

Pets and the water

Many of the same dangers apply to pets and you should always be careful if encouraging pets into the water.

  • Blue Green Algae can be toxic for pets if they swallow water, so please be vigilant when near lochs and still water areas during the summer.
  • Lochs are home to nesting birds, particularly around the waters edges, and dogs can disturb nesting broods or young.
  • Ice is often thin so please keep dogs on leads to avoid them going onto ice.
  • Although dogs are good swimmers they often 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 than you do!

The  Water Safety Policy (PDF) [363KB]  explains the Council's approach for land in its ownership and stresses the need for people to be aware of the risks. The best advice is to keep a safe distance from the water's edge, not to go into the water and to contact the emergency services if you see anyone in difficulties. Scotland's Drowning Prevention Strategy (PDF) [541KB]  sets out Water Safety Scotland's priority actions to reduce drowning and can be viewed in the download section.

Please take a look at the Water Safety Scotland website for more information on national campaigns and how to be safe around water. 

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly affirmed drowning as a preventable global public health issue in April 2021. The first World Drowning Prevention Day is 25 July 2021. 

The Council and the Perth and Kinross Water Safety Partnership have placed water safety signs (WSS) and public rescue equipment (PRE) (most often throw lines) in selected waterside locations. If you find any lost or damaged PRE please report this to or by phoning 01738 475000.  Any recovered PRE can be handed in to the reception at Pullar House.

Last modified on 18 January 2022

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