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Wild swimming warning

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By Donald Turvill
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Wild swimming warning
CAUTION WARNING . . . HM Coastguard Annan's station officer Stewart Bryden

A LOCAL Coastguard chief has warned people to be “extra vigilant” when wild swimming.

The call comes following six water deaths in Scotland last weekend, including two adults and a child at Loch Lomond.

Annan’s HM Coastguard station officer, Stewart Bryden said this week that increased numbers of people heading to lochs, reservoirs and beauty spots in the region due to recent hot weather has resulted in “a lot of activity” for his crew.

He added: “What you’ve got at the moment is people think that the water temperature is warm because the sun’s out, but it’s not; it doesn’t go up by too many degrees at all. So I’d be saying for the wild swimming side of it, you’re looking at cold water shock, currents and tides that they’re not sure about, so you need to be extra vigilant.

“Generally, wild swimmers aren’t the ones we worry about because they’re used to doing it – it’s the people that are going out, having a few drinks, thinking they can dive in and getting caught-out with cold water shock. A lot of people think ‘oh my god that poor person drowned’, but realistically they never drowned, it was cold water shock that got them.”

Mr Bryden advised wild swimmers to “dress appropriately, know what the tides are doing, stay out of rip currents and make sure you have a signal on a mobile phone”.

And he urged anyone who spots someone struggling in the water to altert the Coastguard immediately.

He said: “If somebody thinks there’s something wrong, then normally there’s something wrong. If they do see something, my advice would be – and it’s hard to say – don’t try and rescue them because it could end up the both of you. At least set the alarm first, give us a grid reference of where this is happening and we’ll be en route.

“Make sure you’ve dialled 999 and asked for the coastguard before you attempt anything. And it’s the same old stuff – talk, reach, throw to the casualties and try not to put yourself in a place of danger.”

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