A TIMELY warning has gone out from Elizabeth Clements of the Mineral Products Assoication who writes:
With the start of the school summer holidays, I am writing to request your readers’ help in saving young peoples’ lives. In 2018, 263 people accidently drowned in open water across the UK. Sharing information about some of the common factors associated with these deaths may help avoid further tragedies this summer.
In many accidental drownings water temperature was a significant factor. ‘Cold water shock’, is an involuntary gasp when one is suddenly plunged into cold water, this can result in the inhalation of water and drowning. Emersion in cold water also increases the heart rate, makes breathing more difficult and causes muscles to tire, dramatically impacting on one’s ability to swim.
After a long period of hot weather, many people assume that open water will be relatively warm. In reality, the water temperature of quarry lakes (both active and disused) and reservoirs can be well below 15 degrees, the temperature at which cold water shock can occur.
These lakes and reservoirs can also be extremely deep, have sudden changes in water depth, be difficult to exit and conceal a range of hazards such as pumps, entangling weeds, rocks and old machinery. Quarry faces and edges can be unstable and suddenly give way, resulting in falls into water and making it more difficult to get oneself back onto dry land. Some quarry lakes have high alkalinity or are polluted which can lead to skin rashes, stomach upsets or poisoning.
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is supporting the water safety campaigns being run by the RNLI and other organisations such as the RLSS and the Fire and Rescue Services. Collectively, we do not want to discourage members of the public from enjoying the water but would like people to be aware of the risks and choose to swim in areas that are safe.
Sadly, 8 people drowned in quarry lakes in 2018, the majority of these were young males in disused quarries. Please help to raise awareness of these safety messages particularly if you have children or teenagers who may be visiting or swimming in a former quarry.
To find out more, view the MPA campaign Facebook page Stay Safe Stay out of Quarries or the RNLI website www.respectthewater.com. The RNLI’s ‘Float to Live’ campaign highlights how this simple technique can be lifesaving if one is in difficulty in water. Please share these messages which will help prevent drownings and remember that warning signs and fences are there to help protect you and your family.