A partnership group has been formed to work together on water safety in Aberdeen.
The Aberdeen Water Safety Group includes the RNLI (including Aberdeen Lifeboat Station), Aberdeen City Council, HM Coastguard, Royal Life Saving Society UK, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Police Scotland, Aberdeen Surf Life Saving Club), and Sport Aberdeen.
The main purpose of the group is to save lives lost to drowning through education and promotion of water safety.
Helen Clark, RLSS UK senior volunteer and vice chairman of the group, said: “We are delighted to working in partnership with other agencies in and around Aberdeen to stop these unnecessary deaths.
“RLSS UK is the drowning prevention charity and is committed to a year-on-year reduction in drownings across the UK and Ireland and are committed to working with partners and communities to achieve this aim.”
Inspector Carron McKellar of the Seaton Community Policing Team, said: "Given the tragic events of last year where a mother and child lost their loves in the water at Aberdeen beach, the group are focused on ensuring the water safety message gets out to the public, in particular those who use the beach. Public safety is paramount and Police Scotland is committed to working with partners to ensure we achieve this."
The Group will also look to work to help develop a Water Safety Policy for Aberdeen City Council, linked to the Scottish response to the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy 2016-2020. This is a new type of policy and currently only two local authorities in Scotland have this in place.
The Group also agreed that all life belt equipment on land owned by Aberdeen City Council is inspected weekly and inspections are recorded.
New signage has also been added to equipment which gives details of who to contact should the life belt be missing or vandalised. In addition, a new process and procedure has been adopted by the City Council.
The RNLI is currently undertaking an audit of the beach signage and life saving equipment and will make recommendations to the City Council’s Environmental Services once this is complete.
In addition, in partnership with the RNLI, a beach water safety campaign has been running at the beach since September 2016 where a 'Ton of Water' display on the promenade is in place to help raise safety awareness in the area. This display is simply a cube containing water and is successfully used to promote safety elsewhere in the UK.
The RNLI has used the display as a focal point on several Sundays, setting up a gazebo nearby and issuing general safety information to passing members of the public.
The Royal Life Saving Society UK ran a ‘Don’t Drink and Down’ campaign in December which educated students and party-goers of the dangers of drinking near water or entering water while drunk.
Aberdeen Surf Life Saving Club is currently training new recruits and is taking on anyone who is interested in beach water safety.
A full beach risk assessment was carried out in April 2014 by the RNLI and Aberdeen City Council. The current risk assessment still applies as recommendations are for updates to be undertaken every five years, however the RNLI has agreed to revisit and review the current risk assessment and to work with ACC to update it this year.
Aberdeen Beach revetment works are required to managed and maintained under the statutory requirements of the Flood Risk Management Plan. The work to the beach recharge and the rock groynes were carried out to reduce the risk of failure of the existing seawalls, which provide erosion and flood protection to Aberdeen.
Inspections carried out at the beach include a beach sand survey carried out every month in the summer months looking at sand levels and ensuring that no risks are posed by loss of sand to revetment, and a condition survey which is carried out every three months in the summer months looking at the condition of handrails and hard structures. In addition, a handrail survey has started which is assessing the condition of the handrails along the promenade on the beach front.
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