South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper is raising awareness of water safety as people enjoy the region’s coastlines and rivers this summer.

With soaring temperatures, many people have flocked to popular parts of Dumfries & Galloway’s coastline, lochs and rivers to enjoy cooling off in the water. Tragically however, the number of recent reported deaths of people who have found themselves in difficulty once in the water, has raised significant concerns over water safety.

The South Scotland MSP is therefore encouraging people to familiarise themselves with RNLI’s Float to Live campaign which advises on five steps people can take to keep themselves safe whilst in the water.

RNLI’s Float to Live messages suggest that, when in difficulty, people should fight the instinct to thrash around, lean back extending the arms and legs and, if needs be, just gently move around to help them float. The RNLI say a person should float until they can control their breathing and only then, call for help or swim to safety.

Ms Harper commented;

“Dumfries & Galloway has a fantastic variety of beautiful swimming spots located right across the region and the majority of people are careful and have a great time in the water.

“However, recent tragedies in relation to outdoor swimming across Scotland are a stark reminder of the dangers of the sea’s unpredictable waves, possible rip currents and cold water shock. This incredibly dry and hot weather spell has also caused the level of water in river beds to drop considerably, exposing rocks usually unseen, so careful consideration should be given to whether it is still safe to swim or jump in.

“The RNLI are a fantastic, charitable trust, and their lifeboat crews andhelicopters have been doing a fantastic job with lifesaving services around the coast. They are, as always, at the ready to answer every call for help and I’d like to encourage people to familiarise themselves with their Float to Live advice. The natural instinct when you feel out of control in the water is to panic, but simply knowing you should do the opposite and try to float calmly is useful advice.

If anyone does experience difficulty in the water, the RNLI Float to Liveadvice may just help save their life and further information on this can be found on www.rnli.org <www.rnli.org/>