Quarry Operators Issue Summer Holiday Warning After Tragic Drownings

Quarry operators are warning members of the public about the dangers of swimming in quarry lakes.

They are asked to “Stay Safe and Stay Out” and not to ignore the warning signs and fencing designed to protect them from potential risks in both active and disused quarry sites.

Summer holidays and the warmer weather normally herald an increase in the number of young people who may be tempted to enter a quarry uninvited. They do not appreciate that what they perceive as harmless fun may be putting their lives at risk. A quick dip in a quarry lake on a hot day can seem very inviting but can rapidly lead to even strong swimmers getting into difficulty.

In 2013, during a two month period of exceptionally warm weather, six people drowned whilst swimming in former quarry sites across the UK and Ireland.

Gordon Best of the Quarry Products Association (NI ) said: “People do not appreciate that the water in a quarry can be extremely cold even after a period of prolonged warm weather. Cold water can produce a reflex action where swimmers inhale water into their lungs. This reflex can occur when swimmers encounter an area of cold water or jump into water from a rock face. Cold water also causes the muscles to tire far more rapidly increasing the potential for a swimmer to get into difficulty.

“In addition to extremely cold water, other unexpected hazards may be present in a quarry lake. The water is often very deep and sides can be steep and difficult to exit. Underwater pumps, weeds that can entangle legs, concealed obstructions such as old machinery, or the high alkalinity of the water in some limestone quarries, all add to the dangers.”