Water safety warning on Borders rivers

EMERGENCY services in the Borders are urging the public to stay safe around water after two incidents in the same week.

Senior officers at the emergency services were concerned after anecdotal reports of an elderly man who got into difficulties in the River Tweed at Melrose on Tuesday, August 7 after he attempted to rescue his dog.

On Wednesday, August 8, a t12 year old boy got into trouble in water at The Cauld, in Hawick, in the River Teviot. A member of the public had to rescue the youth.

Both cases were resolved without recourse to the fire and rescue service or police but emergency services’ officers are now warning that a tragedy could all too easily occur and that this is something that must be avoided.

Group Commander Colin Bruce, based at Galashiels fire station, said: “This is a worrying development. In the space of a week, we’ve received anecdotal reports about these two incidents and it is only a matter of time before we fear a real tragedy could occur.

“In particular with children still on school holidays we would urge parents to make sure they know about the dangers of playing near or in water. Dog walkers are another group that are particularly at risk if they end up trying to assist a pet, which has gone into a river.

“This year, due to particularly heavy rain and flooding throughout the Scottish Borders, rivers and open water are at a much higher level than normal for the summer.

“The water is also exceptionally cold having come down from the hills. Although it may look inviting going for a dip could see body temperatures drop very quickly and before you know it, you are in trouble.”

Inspector John Scott from Lothian and Borders Police added: “We are working with our colleagues in the fire and rescue service to highlight the water dangers to people in the Borders.

“Whilst we have some beautiful countryside in our area, which people naturally want to explore, they must be aware of the potential hazards at the same time.

“Take care in and around water. Make sure children know not to attempt swimming in local rivers, currents, depth and temperature are all unpredictable and even confident swimmers can be caught out.

“If you suspect someone is in difficulty call 999 immediately.”