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This from Elizabeth Clements of the Mineral Products Association. Ed
With the start of the school summer holidays and the continuing, unusually warm weather, I am writing to request your readers’ help in saving young peoples’ lives.
Across the country over the last six weeks there have been a number of tragic drownings in quarry lakes, reservoirs, canals and other, similar man-made bodies of open water. All too often, these tragedies occur when people are engaged in what they perceive as harmless fun, either cooling off in the water or playing near the water’s edge.
A number of dangers
Man-made water bodies like quarry lakes and reservoirs can 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 also making it more difficult to get oneself back onto dry land.
Cold water shock
The water in quarry lakes and reservoirs can also be extremely cold, even after a long hot spell. At 15C and below, the body can experience COLD WATER SHOCK when immersed in water, this results in a sudden, involuntary inhalation of water into the lungs which can be deadly. The cold water can also cause even strong swimmers to tire quickly, become breathless and potentially disorientated.
Statistics show that nearly half the accidental drownings occur following an unexpected fall into water, cold water shock is a significant factor in many of these deaths. The RNLI is recommending that someone plunged into water initially floats on their back, allowing their body to acclimatise to the cold water and providing time to calm down before attempting to exit the water.
“Be Water Aware”
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 “Be Water Aware” campaign.
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.
Please also remember that warning signs and fences are there to help protect you and your family.
Yours faithfully, Elizabeth Clements, Mineral Products Association