Mineral Products Association amplifies cold-water safety message with launch of 2015 Stay Safe campaign
THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) has joined forces with the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to warn people of the dangers of swimming in open water in quarry lakes, rivers, reservoirs and canals.
The campaigns – which will run throughout the year – promote drowning prevention and water safety messages. In particular, the MPA’s campaign will encourage people to share information about cold-water shock using the slogan ‘Tell a friend. Save a friend.’.
In 2013 there were 381 accidental water-related fatalities across the UK, many of which occurred at inland water sites. In April this year a 13-year-old boy died in a disused quarry in Lancashire as a result of a swimming trip with friends. Local police warned that those who consider themselves strong swimmers were particularly at risk because of their boldness in entering the icy cold waters of deep quarries.
The MPA’s Stay Safe campaign will place particular emphasis on the impact that immersion in cold water can have on the body and how it can dramatically affect even a strong swimmer’s abilities. The body’s involuntary reflexes – inhalation of water, hyperventilation, rapidly increased heart rate and tiring muscles – can easily result in drowning. Cold-water shock can occur at 15°C or below, well above the ambient temperature of the water in many quarry lakes, even in mid-summer.
The campaign will also highlight other potential hazards that may exist, including: concealed obstacles beneath the surface that can injure or entangle swimmers; very deep water; unexpected currents and pumps; unstable edges making it easy to fall in and difficult to exit; and pollution and high alkalinity.
Steve Harris, the father of 18-year-old Jay who died of heart failure following a fall into the cold water of a quarry lake, is supporting the campaign. He said: ‘I do not want anyone else to have to suffer the devastating loss that my family have experienced. Jay did not appreciate the risks that he was exposing himself to; if he had, he may still have been with us today. I urge everyone to share these safety messages with their loved ones.’
Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA, said: ‘Tragically, 15 people have died in quarry lakes over the last two years, the majority of whom have been young men engaged in activities they perceived to be harmless fun.
‘These sites were typically disused quarries, often not in the ownership or control of the industry. We are working with key stakeholders as part of a national drowning-prevention strategy, to help people to better understand why plunging into the cold water of a quarry lake or reservoir is very different from a swimming pool, or other types of supervised swimming locations.
‘We want these dreadful tragedies to be avoided and believe the best way to do this will be by making sure as many people as possible share these water safety messages – ‘Tell a friend. Save a friend.’.
Dawn Whittaker of the Chief Fire Officers Association said: ‘With warmer weather and school holidays, we are keen to ensure that members of the public better understand these potential hazards. Taking part in leisure activities both in and around water is great fun. This campaign is not about stopping people enjoying this, but simply about raising awareness of potential risks and encouraging them to stay safe.’