SCOTTISH Water is calling on people to stay safe around watercourses this winter.

The company is advising people to be vigilant and not to take risks around freezing cold rivers, reservoirs and lochs and any parts of these watercourses that are covered in ice.

Lots of us enjoy winter walks or runs around reservoirs, lochs and rivers, so they are reminding everyone to stay safe and act responsibly when near open water.

People should not go too close to the edge because they could slip and fall in. Adults should keep children safe, and dogs should be kept on a lead if they are being walked near reservoirs and other bodies of open water.

Scottish Water is also advising people about the hidden dangers in reservoirs and urging them to be particularly careful if they visit one.

Reservoirs are man-made features which, because of their purpose, have unique dangers such as dams, spillways (overflows) and hidden water intakes (underwater pipe work that takes water out of the reservoir) and other hazards common to natural bodies of water, for example reeds, strong currents, steep banks and deep cold water.

Also, as the majority of Scottish Water’s reservoirs are situated in remote locations, there is a lack of immediate assistance. For these reasons, and in the interests of public safety, Scottish Water does not encourage swimming or diving in any of its reservoirs.

Peter Farrer, Scottish Water’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Natural hazards can also lurk beneath the surface, where children and adults can get entangled in vegetation or stuck in mud. As the majority of reservoirs are remote, there is a lack of immediate assistance because the emergency services often can’t get to the area quickly.

“Water safety is a priority and we are urging people to stay safe this winter around reservoirs and any other bodies of water.”


Scottish Water’s safety message is being supported by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer for RoSPA Scotland, said: “In 2016, there were unfortunately 52 accidental deaths in Scotland due to drowning or submersion.

“A lot of these deaths will be of people who did not intend to be in the water, for example joggers and dog walkers.

“While we really want everybody to get out and enjoy Scotland’s beautiful waterways throughout the year, we urge them to do so safely.

“If you walk out onto frozen water there is no way of knowing whether it is going to hold your weight. If you are out walking, please take care around the edges of lochs, reservoirs and rivers.

“We encourage parents to educate their children about the potentially-deadly dangers of walking on frozen water, as children are among those most at risk.

“If a pet runs out onto the ice or jumps into the water, please do not go after them. We have seen many incidents where an owner has drowned while trying to retrieve a dog, only for the dog to get itself out of trouble. Further winter safety advice is available at”

Chief Inspector Lex Baillie, from Police Scotland’s Safer Communities, said: “Holiday periods are a particularly busy time for all of our emergency services and those who volunteer to assist us.

“There are more than 37,000 separate stretches of inland water in Scotland, from rivers and canals in towns and cities to remote reservoirs. If anyone gets into difficulty, it can take time for help to arrive but survival time may only be in minutes. Please respect water even when it’s frozen - ice can break suddenly.

“Children and pets are at risk, as well as adults who try to save others. Make sure your children know never to go onto ice and keep dogs and other pets safe near ice and water. We also know that about a quarter of adult drowning victims have been drinking alcohol, which seriously reduces your ability to survive. Please look out for yourself and your friends when you’re enjoying a winter night out, and make sure everyone gets home safely.”

One of the biggest concerns with dog owners is when their pet experiences difficulties after diving in to water, chasing a ball or stick. The pet more often survives such incidents, but the owners, who have attempted to save them, may not.

Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We strongly advise dog owners to keep their dogs on a lead when walking near frozen water.

“Each year we reinforce the message to dog owners not to go after their dog if it runs onto ice. Whilst the ice may be able to hold the weight of a dog, it will most likely crack under the weight of a human.

“We receive several reports each year where people have tried to rescue their pet from a frozen lake or river, and often the consequences are tragic. This year we want to make sure both people and pets stay safe this winter.”

Chief Superintendent Flynn added: “If you spot an animal in distress near or in water this year, be that a domestic pet, livestock or wildlife, please call our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.

“In an emergency situation, such as if your pet has fallen through ice, then you should call the fire and rescue service and wait for assistance.”

Scottish Water is one of 10 partners involved in the Go Safe Scotland online education resource that has been developed to provide young people in Scotland with a variety of key safety messages, one of which is water safety.

Scottish Water is also actively involved in promoting water safety in schools throughout the country and would encourage all teachers in Scotland to sign up to the free online Go Safe Scotland education resource, which is designed to enable teachers to provide water safety education linked to the Curriculum for Excellence.

Scottish Water’s social media campaign #ReservoirSafety was launched earlier this year and we have a video available to highlight the importance of reservoir safety, which can be viewed at or on YouTube at