On average, 50 people accidentally drown in Scotland every year. This is a number disproportionate to the rest of the United Kingdom. Recreational activities make up the majority of these drownings and recent five-year data (2013-2017) shows that angling is among the leading causes of recreational fatalities, with on average 4 fatalities a year.
Of the angling fatalities, 7 in 10 happen at inland waters. Males aged 60-69 are the most at risk, followed by males aged 30-39. It is therefore imperative to raise awareness of the issue and how we can overcome and prevent further drownings across Scotland.
Here are some RoSPA safety tips and advice:
Cold water shock
Cold water shock is the body’s response to sudden immersion into cold water. As the cold water hits the body, there is an increase in blood pressure followed by panic and hyperventilation. This makes the body gasp for air, which, in turn, can result in water being breathed in.
The first few minutes is the critical window. After entry controlling breathing and floating is critical to your survival chances. Remember: Pause > Float > Breath until you are in control. Contain the urge to swim immediately until you are in control.
Wearing the correct buoyancy
The best way to protect yourself against drowning is to wear a lifejacket while angling. A lifejacket lifts your head and airways out of the water and stops you inhaling the water.
Helpful tips for lifejacket use:
- Make sure your lifejacket fits properly and is worn on the outside of your clothes
- Ensure any crotch straps are fastened under the crotch
- Try to ensure your lifejacket has a whistle and light for attracting attention
- Be sure to check your lifejacket regularly for wear and tear.
Waders and footwear:
Slips and falls are the most common accident anywhere – on a riverbank or rocky ledge the consequence could be fall into water. Wearing sturdy and grippy footwear is a must.
Fishing from remote and difficult to access spots might offer a better chance, but it is important to plan ahead and consider ‘what if I end up in the water here?’
Along the coast, fishing form promontories – particularly in stormy/building weather- can lead to being swept offshore.
At rivers, deeper and faster flowing water can lead to long and bumpy swims, worse near to dangerous rapids and features, particularly weirs do end in serious incidents.
Alcohol and angling
Having a beer might sound like a great idea while you are out fishing but it increases your chances of drowning. Alcohol can lead to impaired judgement and can slow down your reactions which is highly dangerous around water.
Our advice is to enjoy a beer or drink after you have fished – when you are safely away from the water.
What is above your head? Look up and behind you…
Stepping away from water risks, electrocution on overhead power lines does happen to anglers, resulting in life changing injuries. Being aware of surroundings and looking for the warning signs if you are planning to fish in proximity to a line is an important and quick step.
Fisheries will put out hazard warning signs, and demark the outer edge of where you can fish. Remember that electricity will arc many metres to the rod so staying well clear is critical.
In an emergency
Make sure you dial 999/112 and ask for the coastguard
Learn first aid, CPR, and how to use a throwline – these skills could save yours or another life.
Carlene McAvoy, community safety development manager
Posted: 10/1/2018 3:02:59 PM