The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is warning communities across Scotland to stay clear of frozen water as temperatures drop.
The national service is urging the public to be aware of the risks of going onto, or allowing children and pets to go onto, the ice.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, more than 50% of all drowning cases around ice in the UK involved the attempted rescue of another person or a pet.
And SFRS is warning that while ice can look and feel solid, it can suddenly crack and cause a person to fall through and potentially become trapped under the ice.
DACO Alasdair Perry is SFRS’s Head of Prevention and Protection. He said: ‘We would ask everyone to be aware of the dangers of ice during this cold snap and strongly advise against walking or playing on any iced-up waterways, and always ensure that children are kept away from any iced-over ponds or rivers.
‘If you are out with your pet, do not throw sticks or balls near frozen water, and if they do get into trouble on the ice, do not venture onto the ice yourself to attempt a rescue – dial 999.
‘The ice may look solid, but it is not worth the risk to step out on to it.’
The low temperature of the water can also bring on cold-water shock, which can be potentially deadly.
Cold-water shock can cause breathing difficulties, blood vessels to close, the heart rate to increase and lead to a heart attack.
Michael Avril is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) Regional Water Safety Lead for Scotland. He said: ‘Walking on ice is extremely risky and unpredictable and the RNLI advise that you avoid doing this. If you do fall through, the freezing water temperatures can bring on cold-water shock.
‘If you find yourself or someone else in trouble, dial 999 and ask for the fire service immediately. Do not attempt to rescue anyone yourself.’
For more information on cold-water shock, please visit the RNLI website at rnli.org/safety/know-the-risks/cold-water-shock
For more information on how to stay safe around frozen water, visit www.rlss.org.uk/winter-water-safety or www.rospa.com/leisure-safety/water/advice/ice.aspx
For more information from Scottish FRS, please visit: www.firescotland.gov.uk