The Borders’ emergency services are urging members of the public to stay safe around water after two incidents in two days last week.
Senior officers at Lothian and Borders Police, and the fire and rescue service received reports on August 7 of an elderly man who got into difficulties in the Tweed at Melrose while attempting to rescue his dog.
The next day, a 12-year-old boy had to be rescued by a member of the public when he got into trouble at the cauld in the River Teviot at Hawick.
Group Commander Colin Bruce, based at Galashiels fire station, warned of possible tragedies if people were not aware of the dangers in and around water.
He 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.
“We have a swift water rescue team based at Galashiels for just such emergencies but in strong currents, in rivers at full spate, a person can be swept away in minutes.
“If you see anyone in difficulties in the water or have a pet that has strayed too far into open water, do not attempt a rescue yourself. Call 999 and ask for ‘fire’. Be mindful of the risk when in and around water and help us reduce the risk of an emergency.”
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 Scottish Borders. While 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. If you have a dog that likes to go into rivers, you should keep it leashed during this time when rivers are very full.
“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 difficulties, call the emergency services immediately.”