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Cold water shock warning as Scotland heats up

today18 July, 2022 6

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People should take extra care around water as the country prepares for record-breaking heat, a national park has warned.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park said the “extreme” contrast between air and water temperature increased the risks for swimmers.

An amber heat warning is in force across parts of Scotland.

Thousands of people are expected to visit coasts and lochs to cool off during the hot spell.

Meteorologists said Scotland’s highest recorded temperature of 32.9C (91.2F) could be topped this week.

The amber heat warning is in place until midnight on Tuesday.

  • Scotland heats up as record temperatures approach
  • Scotland has highest drowning rate in UK

In July 2021, seven people died after a weekend of incidents that rescue teams called the “worst in memory”. Five of the drownings took place in the national park, with four in Loch Lomond.

Kenny Auld, head of visitor services at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, said it was important to take extra care around water while temperatures remained “unusually hot”.

“Heading into lochs can be really appealing but please remember that even on hot days the water is still very cold,” he told BBC Scotland.

“When the temperatures are high that contrast can be even more extreme and could raise the risk of cold water shock further.

“We also urge people to keep a very close eye on friends and family, especially children, when spending time around the water as lochs can get deep very quickly with steep drops close to shore.”

Image caption: Thousands of people are expected to head to Scotland’s lochs or the coast to cool off over the next couple of days

Scotland had the highest accidental drowning rate across all the UK nations last year, figures show.

The Scottish government published a water safety action strategy in March in a bid to cut drowning deaths in half by 2026.

The plan includes extra funding, updated signs and lesson plans for pupils.

What is cold water shock?

Loch Lomond
Image caption: In Loch Lomond, the change between shallow and deep water is very sudden

Scotland’s deep lochs and cold waters mean even strong, confident swimmers can get into difficulties.

Leigh Hamilton, ranger manager at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, said cold water shock was one of the biggest risks for swimmers

“Your limbs stop moving properly and it’s harder for your blood pressure to maintain the rhythm of your heart so it can cause a heart attack,” she said.

“The sudden cooling of the skin means you’re desperately gasping for breath because you start to panic. That makes you start to choke and the feeling of panic increases to the point where you’re inhaling water directly into your body, which obviously can result in drowning.

“It’s as quick as that, it’s a severe as that and even the best swimmer in the world can be exposed to cold water shock.”

Ms Hamilton said people who found themselves in this situation should float on their back in a star shape instead of trying to swim.

The national park also warned swimmers not to mix alcohol or drugs with swimming.

Written by: NOW Radio

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