Editorial - water should be treated with respect

The north west has been basking in summer sunshine in recent days but, sadly, it has not come without cost.

The tragic drowning deaths in counties Derry, Tyrone and Donegal have again highlighted the dangers of our rivers, lakes, quarries, reservoirs and seas.

It has become an unfortunate feature of our summers with an alarming number of drowning deaths each year.

What may seem like a fun and harmless way to spend a summer’s day can have tragic consequences for all involved.

Of course, our watercourses are there to be enjoyed, particularly during spells of good weather, but they must also be treated with respect.

Even the most innocuous looking river can be as dangerous as a busy road and should be regarded in the same way.

No one would think of crossing or allowing children to play near a busy road without observing the necessary precautions but all too often the same considerations are not given to our rivers.

River, lakes and seas cannot and should not be fenced off and made inaccessible to the public so there needs to be a change in attitudes towards water safety so that they can be enjoyed safely.

Children in particular need to be made aware of the dangers posed by water, especially in the summer months. Adults have a responsibilty to lead by example in they way they behave around open water so that children learn to treat it with the respect it deserves.

Unfortunately, given the unpredictable nature of water, drowning tragedies can never be avoided completely but with a healthy respect for the power of nature and awareness of water safety precautions the risks can be lessened, allowing people to enjoy the beauty of our natural environment in safety.