Loch Doon-5

Loch Doon water safety day

Over 250 children and young people from primary and secondary schools within East Ayrshire have taken part in the annual outdoor water safety day at Loch Doon.

Across Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service regularly respond to emergency calls from people who have witnessed someone getting into difficulty in open water and tragically, in 2023 there were 94 water-related fatalities.

To ensure our children and young people understand the dangers of open water, the Council’s Health and Safety section have joined forces with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, RNLI, Police Scotland, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Loch Doon Rangers and East Ayrshire Leisure to deliver a sector-leading water safety awareness course.

The training sessions, which were held over three days, were informative and hands-on, allowing the children and young people to safely learn about the hidden hazards within and around the water and how to correctly use the life-saving equipment strategically positioned around the loch.

They also received essential lifesaving skills training including CPR awareness and defib training and how to float in the water, should they find themselves in danger. They also learned invaluable information about cold-water shock, which is one of the main causes of drowning in Scotland.

David Doran, Health and Safety Manager at East Ayrshire Council said: “The water safety awareness course that the Health and Safety team developed with our partners is now in its third year and is constantly evolving to ensure that children and young people, who live in the vicinity, understand just how incredibly dangerous open water can be.

“Loch Doon is deep, very cold at all times of the year and has strong currents, which can result in someone quickly getting into difficulty. With our partners we are ensuring that local children and young people recognise the dangers, avoid entering the water but also have the knowledge to assist if they witness someone getting into trouble in any open water.

“I would like to thank everyone who gave their time so generously to support this training.”

A Portsafe public access rescue system was installed at Loch Doon with funding from local landowner Drax and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. The Portsafe system is a 17-metre extendable pole that can be used from the shore. The emergency services must be contacted for a code to access the equipment and are therefore immediately alerted to any drowning incident.

Area Commander Ian McMeekin is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Local Senior Officer for East, North and South Ayrshire. He said: “We want people of all ages to be safe around water and to understand the risks and prevent drowning.

“We are fully committed to working with partner organisations to deliver training to educate the public.

“We work in partnership with Water Safety Scotland, a national voluntary association of organisations and individuals, aims to understand the risks around water in Scotland and prevent water-related incidents.

“The key safety message is to follow the 3-step Water Safety Code and remember that water is still very cold, even on warm days.

“If you are having difficulty in water, lie on your back, spread your arms and legs until the initial effects of cold water shock pass in around 90 seconds, and float to live.

“If a member of the public sees someone else in trouble in the water, they should never enter the water to attempt a rescue. They should call 999 immediately and request the emergency services.”