Unbelievably, at times this week Britain was hotter than Barbados, and as we rain-sodden Brits emerge blinking into the sunshine, nothing seems more appealing than the outdoor life. Who wouldn't want to camp, BBQ, swim and enjoy every aspect of the warm weather?
Fire and Rescue services across the country, including the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, have been publishing advice on how to keep safe this summer, including obvious tips such as not lighting barbeques and camping stoves, etc inside caravans and tents, due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, and not being in charge of a BBQ when you have consumed excess alcohol.
The appeal of water is particularly tempting when temperatures soar, however, taking the chance to have a dip in rivers, lakes and ponds can often have deadly consequences. In the news this week is the tragic story of the 17 year old boy who drowned whilst swimming in Gullet Quarry in Worcestershire. Russell O'Neill found himself in difficulties whilst swimming in the disused quarry filled with 100 ft deep waters. His body was found after a 3 hour search and he was pronounced dead at the scene. This tragedy is one of many which make the headlines annually, with children in particular not realising how dangerous swimming in this type of environment can be.
The Royal Life Saving Society UK have just ran their "Drowning Prevention Week" campaign, running from June 22nd to 30th, which gives advice on how to keep safe when around water in swimming pools, inland water, the beach and even at home. Around 420 people drown every year, and of those around 260 are accidental drowning deaths in inland waters, such as swimming pools, lakes and canals. It is shocking to learn that accidental drowning is the third highest cause of child death in the UK. The Royal Life Saving Society UK website has guidelines to help prevent such tragedies, such as only swim at lifeguarded beaches, check the high and low tide levels, and if boating or fishing in inland waters, make sure that you wear buoyancy aids, and that your vessel has adequate life saving equipment on board.
Unique research into water fatality figures over the years 2009 to 2011, funded by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) have identified that around a third of the deaths identified took place as a result of water sports, with motorboating and sub-aqua diving being the highest risk activities, and also that areas with the greatest amount of inland water showed significantly higher accidental death rates. The analysis showed that people indulging in water sports and geographical locations with high inland water levels should be targeted for safety campaign initiatives.
David Walker, leisure safety manager at RoSPA stated "As with any aspect of leisure safety .... it is also crucial to consider the risks involved in particular activities versus the benefits of doing those activities - leisure safety is about managing risks rather than eradicating them altogether".
So by all means, enjoy the glorious (possibly temporary) summer weather, but don't take risks and keep safe.
By Pauline Smith