As summer approaches and the weather gets warmer, it is really important that everyone is aware of the dangers of swimming in quarries and other inland water sites.
Few people realise just how cold quarry lakes are; much colder than rivers, lakes, reservoirs and even the sea. They really are a stone cold killer, even for experienced, strong swimmers.
This is because 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 even grasp a rope or rescue hoist.
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.
A major safety campaign has been launched in association with the Mineral Products Association to raise awareness of these dangers and prevent loss of life. You can find out more at the MPA website.