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19 May 2015

“Tell a friend. Save a friend.” – MPA Amplifies Cold Water Safety Message in Launch of 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 these deaths occurred at inland water sites. In April 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 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, hyperventilating, rapidly increased heart rate and tiring muscles – can easily result in drowning.  Cold Water Shock can occur at 15oC 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, 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 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.”


Notes for Editors
The MPA and national safety organisations have a wide range of resources that provide more information about water safety and can be accessed via their websites.     

 Cold Water Shock – The Facts (RLSS)
The effects of cold water shock are responsible for many of the drownings which occur in the UK every year. Cold water shock affects our ability to swim and self-rescue.

Signs of Cold Water Shock
1. Initial Immersion Responses – Cold Shock Response (0–3mins)
Immediately after immersion in cold water, rapid cooling of the skin causes a number of instinctive reactions, including gasping, hyperventilation, restriction of blood flows and panic.

2. Short Term responses – Loss of Performance (3–30mins)
Following the cold shock response, the hands, feet, arms and legs start to cool and blood flow continues to be restricted. This causes a decrease in muscle strength and endurance leading to muscle fatigue and reduced control over body movements. If the casualty is unable to get out of the water or use a buoyancy aid, this will ultimately result in drowning.

3. Long Term Responses – Hypothermia (30mins+)
Over time, the amount of heat lost continues causing the core body temperature to begin to drop leading to hypothermia.

Even Olympic swimmers can be affected in the cold water, as shown in this YouTube video from Professor Michael Tipton

MPA Stay Safe video playlist on YouTube:

MPA Stay Safe...Stay Out of Quarries Facebook page:

Royal Life Saving Society UK:

For further information please contact Elizabeth Clements at  tel: 020 7963 8000, 07775894285

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