WATER SAFETY ON LOCH LOMOND
Ensure every member of your family learns to swim so they at least achieve skills of water competency: able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, change position, swim a distance then get out of the water safely.
Employ layers of protection including barriers to prevent access to water, life jackets, and close supervision of children to prevent drowning.
Know what to do in a water emergency – including how to help someone in trouble in the water safely, call for emergency help and CPR.
COLD WATER SHOCK
Sudden cold water immersion drastically reduces your ability to hold your breath typically from a minute or so to less than 10 seconds, whilst cold water in your ears can cause vertigo and disorientation.
At a water temperature below 15°C, and if you are not wearing a life jacket, especially an automatic one, cold water shock will:
Cause you to inhale as you go under the water, due to an involuntary gasping reflex, and drown without coming back to the surface.
Drastically reduce your ability to hold your breath underwater, typically from a minute or so to less than 10 seconds.
Induce vertigo as your ears are exposed to cold water, resulting in failure to differentiate between up and down.
Cold Water Shock is a danger in water below 15°C; that’s often the summer temperature of Loch Lomond, in winter it can be much less. It is therefore important to think carefully about the clothing you wear and protection from the cold – a wet suit or dry suit will provide additional protection, particularly in very cold water.
LIFE JACKETS, BOUYANCY AIDS & PFD
Wearing a life jacket is critically important for a variety of reasons. Anything can happen when kayaking, paddleboarding, water skiing, boating or jet skiing and it is important to be prepared at all times. It's incredibly easy to enter the water unplanned and a life jacket can easily save your life.
Just because you’re familiar with the Loch doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the same precautions.
Life jackets keep you warm if you’re stuck in the water awaiting rescue. If you have a boating mishap and end up in cold water the life jacket will help maintain your body temperature and keep you warm. Life jackets & bouyancy aids are made from thick insulated material.
In case you lose consciousness, life jackets are also designed to turn a person over with your face in an upright position. They’ll keep you breathing even if you’re not awake.
What is the difference between buoyancy aids and lifejackets? Buoyancy aids are suitable for personal watercraft (PWC), dinghies, windsurfing and generally for activities where the wearer might reasonably expect to end up in the water. A lifejacket is intended for use where a high standard of performance is required.
Blue skies and rising temperatures generate a great temptation for some to cool off with an impromptu wild water swim.
But the inviting waters can have hidden hazards.
The rivers on Loch Lomond rarely get warm even during a summer heat wave.
The effects of immersion in cold water can overcome even the fittest and strongest of swimmers, so resist the temptation to go in, no matter how hot you are or how temptingly cooling the water looks.
The river Leven, Endrick, Falloch & Fruin Water all have powerful currents, even in a dry spell.
Never enter the water if you are intoxicated.
It is easy to misjudge your swimming ability in cold open water. Cold water quickly saps stamina and strength and if a swimmer is a long way out from the bank they can quickly be in serious difficulty.
Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death among the under 16s.
Objects under the water which may be unseen from the riverbank can entrap or injure swimmers.
Boats regularly manoeuvre in the River Leven. There is a real danger of becoming entangled in propellers or even being caught in the wash of a boat and dragged under by the displacement of the water created by the boats’ movement.
Please teach your children and spread the message about the dangers of trying to swim in these rivers.