Water Safety Action Plan

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 20 April 2022.

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Photo of Kaukab Stewart Kaukab Stewart Scottish National Party

7. To ask the Scottish Government how measures in the water safety action plan will support awareness of water safety among school pupils. (S6O-00964)

The Minister for Community Safety (Ash Regan):

We are working with stakeholders to improve water safety on several fronts, including awareness. Some measures, such as work to improve signage, should benefit all age groups, but other measures focus specifically on children and young people. For example, coinciding with the National Fire Chiefs Council’s be water aware campaign, next week will see the launch of age and stage-appropriate water safety education lessons, which have been developed by Education Scotland and Water Safety Scotland. The resource, which is to be hosted on the Education Scotland national improvement hub, aims to support those between the ages of three and 18 to develop valuable life-saving knowledge, skills and understanding.

Photo of Kaukab Stewart Kaukab Stewart Scottish National Party

As people continue to take advantage of the great outdoors, what work has been undertaken on Scotland’s drowning prevention strategy to support safe open-water swimming?

Ash Regan:

The 2018 to 2026 drowning prevention strategy is a collaborative piece of work between Water Safety Scotland and its members, and the strategy is complemented by the stakeholder action plan that I launched last month. Both approaches are informed by an appreciation of the challenges of open-water swimming, which are very different from those of indoor pools because of the risks that are posed by currents, obstacles and, importantly, cold-water shock.

A key focus has to be on education and raising awareness, and both documents set out the work that is being done in that area. There is always value in practical experience, which is why one of the actions that the action plan identifies is for a sub-group of Water Safety Scotland to review the scope for developing expanded opportunities for young people to experience being safe in open water environments.

The Scottish Government has enhanced the funding that is available to RoSPA, which supports Water Safety Scotland, so that such work can be progressed as quickly as possible. In the meantime, relevant authorities are undertaking a range of site-specific work—for example, the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority’s water safety campaign will highlight the importance of wearing buoyancy aids or life jackets when participating in all water sports and focus on being visible in the water for open water swimmers.

Photo of Evelyn Tweed Evelyn Tweed Scottish National Party

I ask the Scottish Government for an update on the roll-out of the new water safety promotions, which target high-risk areas such as the lochs and reservoirs in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs national park in my constituency.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

You may have dealt with some of those points already, minister, so please answer briefly.

Ash Regan:

Th e member raises a pertinent question given the tragedies that have occurred in that national park in recent years. The national park authority has developed a water safety policy and an accompanying risk assessment procedure, which formalises its approach on its owned and managed land. It has now upgraded and installed public rescue equipment and signage sites around Loch Lomond. I saw some of that myself when I was at Balloch for the launch of the action plan this past month.

The follow-up phase involves assessing and addressing issues on sites outwith the immediate Loch Lomond area.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I can squeeze in question 8 if I have brief questions and answers.