WHEN I was a tot I managed to fall off a pier and was rescued choking and terrified by people on a beach nearby.

The episode bequeathed me two lifelong attitudes, one positive, one negative.

The positive was a very healthy respect for the inherent dangers of water, and even when I sailed, with full kit including decent lifejacket, I was always acutely aware that being on the boat was greatly to be preferred to falling off it.

The rather sad negative was a persistent fear of water which made me swim like the average stone, even in heated pools with easy access to the sides, and plenty of bystanders.

It didn’t help having a husband who was apparently equipped with webbed feet and could swim a length or three in nothing flat.

So I was that holidaymaker who lay on a lilo, swiftly moving out of the range of any bathers who looked like their wash might capsize my wobbly craft.

READ MORE: Heartbroken family plead with public to be aware of open water risks

By all accounts, some of the folks who tragically lost their lives last weekend were doing nothing more dangerous than sampling the delights of a loch on a glorious day, without being aware of the sudden depths. It’s difficult to imagine the grief of the man who lost his family to such a random event, even as he tried to throw them rescue equipment.

As all the safety experts have been explaining in the aftermath of these needless deaths, water demands respect, even from those who are skilled users of it for sport and leisure.

It’s why it’s imperative for children to grow up with the ability to swim, and the knowledge of dangers like tidal currents. It never fails to amaze that so many professionals aboard fishing vessels never learn this basic life protecting skill.

Last week I watched friends on my own local loch go wild swimming, as they’ve done regularly during the recent amazing spell of weather. Yet all of them are well aware how vital it is to keep to self imposed boundaries, to wear appropriate clothing, and to keep a wary eye on each other.

Otherwise simple pleasures can turn into random tragedy.

READ MORE: National Park Authority holds emergency meetings on water safety after Loch Lomond deaths