Water Safety Signage
There are three main types of water safety signs you will find when you are around water. Each one has its own meaning, but all of them work to the same system:
Signs that warn you of danger, are always:
- Triangle shaped
- Yellow background, with black symbols
- They are placed to help you spot a hazard that is not always obvious
They mean that you should be aware of something.
Signs that mean you should not do something, are always:
- A red ring shape, with a line running through
- White background, red line and black symbols or shapes
- They inform you of things you are not supposed to do
These signs tell you that it would be dangerous to do something, or go in that place.
Signs that mean you should do something, are always:
- Blue and circle shaped
- White symbols or shapes
- They inform you of things you need to do
These signs tell you that you should do something to be safe.
In addition to the water safety signs, you will also find information signs telling you where the toilets are or where you can get first aid. They will also tell you where available public rescue equipment is held.
A signage guide is provided by RoSPA .
Water Safety Scotland Signage Audit
In 2022, research was carried out by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), Scottish Community Safety Network (SCSN) and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to look at water safety signage across Scotland. The research provides a ‘snapshot’ of the current signage in place in key areas of owned land in Scotland.
The main findings of the research were that water safety signs in Scotland lack clarity and uniformity and more specifically, signs had little consistency in terms of font size, sign size, colouring and amount of written information.
The report recommends that funding should be sought to explore the minimum critical information needed for inclusion on water safety signs, and investigate options for reforming and simplifying water safety signage across Scotland.
The full report is included below.
Building Consistent Signage - Project 23/24
Water Safety Scotland (WSS), Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) , Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park (LLTNP), Scottish Community Safety Network and The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) are currently undertaking a research project looking at water safety signage in Scotland. This follows on from the Audit report above and focusses on three phases:
- A pilot survey at LLTNP over the summer 2023
- Consensus on the proposed signage (via an online survey and workshop with practitioners and experts). This phase aims to gain consensus on what the proposed signage should look like and include, i.e. what makes an effective water safety sign that will alert members of the public to hazards in the area.
- Self-completion questionnaire to members of the public (i.e., an online survey) to assess and evaluate their understanding of the signs.
During the summer of 2023, rangers at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA) used a WSS/LLTNPA-designed survey which would give useful information about visitor intention to use the water during their visit, their knowledge of WSS and the water safety code, and crucially whether they noticed and read water safety signage in place at the National Park. Encouragingly, 70% of the respondents noticed the signage and 65% took time to read it. This preliminary research informs a more in-depth study regarding water safety signage in Scotland.