OUR latest community column comes from Ross Greer, West Scotland MSP (Scottish Greens).

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IT’S been a heart-breaking summer on our lochs and waterways, particularly at Loch Lomond where four people lost their lives in a single weekend.

This isn’t the first time that warm weather has coincided with tragedy. As hot weather makes the prospect of cooling off with a swim more enticing, it’s important to follow advice and stay safe.

For example, check for signs and flags that indicate hazards, and be aware of items or ledges under the water, as well as dangerous tides and currents. Stay close to others, and if you feel you’re in trouble, try to float rather than swim until you feel calm and can breathe more easily, then call for help.

In one in 10 drownings there are adults nearby who simply don’t recognise what’s happening until it’s too late. Where a child tragically drowns this percentage is much higher.

READ MORE: Family of teen who drowned in Loch Lomond call for better safety awareness

This is because, in many cases, a drowning person is unable to shout, wave or splash like we’re used to seeing on TV. Instead they’ll be gasping for air, struggling to keep their mouth above the surface of the water. They’ll likely be vertical, like they’re trying to climb an invisible ladder. This is called the Instinctive Drowning Response.

Sadly, this spike is coinciding with a concerted attack on the one institution which has probably saved more people in our waters than any other, the RNLI.

Since 2019 the charity has been subjected to a ridiculous boycott after an array of misleading, sensational tabloid headlines about their life-saving work. Now, a new anti-refugee law passed by the Tories could see RNLI crews criminalised for saving lives in UK waters.

Last year the RNLI were forced to cut back their presence on beaches across the UK after the pandemic made it much harder for charities to raise funds. With fewer foreign holidays and warm weather here, though, our beaches are busier than ever.

If you can afford it, I’d urge you to please make a donation to the RNLI at rnli.org/support-us/give-money/donate.