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Scottish Canals urges Inverness residents to be #CanalCareful this summer

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Scottish Canals launches #CanalCareful campaign this week
Scottish Canals launches #CanalCareful campaign this week

Scottish Canals is encouraging the people of Inverness to become aware of the hidden dangers of canals, for the #CanalCareful summer campaign, which launched this week.

The campaign is focused on younger children and families, to educate about the dangers of Scotland’s canals, and to encourage children to enjoy the canals responsibly.

Scotland’s canals are enjoyed by many, from walkers and paddlers to boaters and cyclists, attracting more than 20 million visits throughout the year, and summer is a particularly popular time to enjoy the waterways.

While the canals and reservoirs may look inviting on a warm day, open waters can harbour a number of hidden dangers which children may not be aware of. The summer safety campaign features schools’ resources and worksheets, as well as a social media campaign which uses three mascots – Kind Kingfisher, Daft Duck and Healthy Hedgehog – to raise awareness of the dangers and encourage #CanalCareful behaviour.

Scottish Canals has reached out to all primary schools located near the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands to share resources and key safety messages which have been developed in line with the wider Water Safety Scotland Group messaging around drowning prevention.

Catherine Topley, chief executive at Scottish Canals, said: “Whilst we enjoy welcoming many more walkers, cyclists and boaters to the canals and towpaths during the summer months, Scottish Canals encourages safe and responsible use of these shared spaces.

“We hope children are inspired by Kind Kingfisher, Daft Duck and Healthy Hedgehog, encouraging them to behave safely on the canals as they learn of the hidden dangers on our inland waterways.”

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “Encouraging local people to be more aware of water safety – particularly during the hotter months when the canal may look inviting – is critical to reducing accidental drownings and other incidents which occur in the water.”

The calm surface of the canals can disguise unseen dangers in the water such as silt build-up, hidden objects, and strong underwater currents. Due to varying depths of the canals, the water itself can remain very cold even on a warm and sunny day, which can cause a cold-water shock if someone is immersed too quickly.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to talk about the risks of water with children, and always accompany those under 16 when spending time near an open body of water. Pet owners are advised to keep pets out of canals too.

During the summer season, Scotland’s canals are busy with boat movements and the movement of operational structures, such as bridges and locks. These active transport routes need to be kept clear for passage and individuals should keep this in mind when enjoying the waterways.

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