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2020 / 2021 Edition

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New safety campaign: 'Quarry water is a stone-cold killer'

Safety campaign poster

Northern Ireland Ministers launch new campaign aimed at preventing loss of life in disused quarries

NORTHERN Ireland’s Minister Durkan and Minister Ford have today launched a new quarry safety campaign aimed at preventing loss of life in disused quarries.

The campaign, ‘Quarry water is a stone-cold killer. Stay out, stay alive’ is a joint initiative between the Department of the Environment, the Department of Justice, the Quarry Products Association and the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships.

It has been developed following an extensive audit of disused quarries by the district councils, which helped identify the highest-risk sites and the features within each site which make them so dangerous.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: ‘There are a wide variety of risks associated with disused quarries. However, quarry lakes pose the greatest risk. Few people realize how extremely cold they are. They are often much colder than rivers, lakes, reservoirs and even the sea. Quarry water really is a stone cold killer.

‘A sudden plunge into cold water initiates a gasp response, which can cause drowning within seconds. It also prevents a person holding their breath if their head is submerged under water. If an individual does not get out of the water quickly, the cold takes its toll. Poor blood circulation causes stiff fingers, reduced co-ordination and loss of strength. Swimming to safety and pulling oneself out of the water may no longer be possible. A person may no longer be able to grasp a rope or rescue hoist.’

Justice Minister David Ford said: ‘It is crucial that people understand how dangerous abandoned quarries are and the risks they are taking when they trespass into one. In addition to the very low water temperature, there are other hazards, such as submerged machinery which may not visible from the surface, hidden currents and underwater recesses where someone can very easily become trapped. Some sites may also contain rubbish and industrial pollution which can cause skin and eye irritations, rashes and infections.

‘As we approach the summer break, it is particularly important that parents speak to their children about the risks involved. We welcome the role of the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships in this important campaign. They will be working closely with the DOE to help raise awareness about the dangers of swimming in quarries, in particular, disused quarries.’

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