School’s out – stay safe this holiday period!

Schools across West Yorkshire have recently broken-up for the annual six week holiday and with the sunny weather on our doorsteps, youngsters will have been taking the opportunity to get out and about and enjoy themselves.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) wants youngsters to stay safe this summer, whether it be in the home or outdoors.

Area Manager for Fire Safety, Ian Bitcon, said: “Youngsters may be looking for some adventures this summer and could well be jumping on their bikes in search of some fun.

“Schools across the county have been doing some great work with our prevention teams to highlight the dangers posed by the roads and we hope this will have had an impact.

“Above all, youngsters should always wear a helmet when on a bike and small children need to be supervised near roadways at all times. Devastating accidents can happen in the blink of an eye so please remember to look and listen for traffic.”

Another danger posed to youngsters is open water and the temptation to take a dip in reservoirs, old quarries, rivers, lakes or canals.

However, water poses its own dangers.  

Strong currents – water that looks calm can often hide strong currents beneath the surface. Reservoirs in particular can have pipes beneath the surface which draw water away, creating currents. Should you be heading to the coast, remember the open sea can also hide dangerous swells which can get even the strongest of swimmers into trouble.

The cold and hyperventilation – when deaths occur, it’s the temperature of the water which is often the most crucial factor. Reservoirs can be deep and the water in them doesn’t flow like in rivers or the sea so the temperature rarely rises much above 12C.

Hyperventilation is the body’s natural defence in an attempt to increase oxygen in the blood to help stave off the cold. The body will then begin to shut down to protect vital organs and muscles will go into cramp, making it impossible to swim.

How deep?  It’s often difficult to tell how deep open water is and youngsters can suddenly become out of their depth.

What lies beneath?  It’s easy to strike your head on something below the surface and be knocked unconscious, or even become entangled in something that lies beneath and be dragged under.

Time is crucial when it comes to helping someone in trouble; if you see someone in distress in the water dial 999 immediately. Look for any buoyancy aid you may be able to throw to them – waterways often have lifeguard rings on the bankside.

Station Manager Ian Thompson, a Technical Rescue Officer, said: “Apart from the hidden dangers which may be present below the inviting calm of the enticing waters, the main issue is the water temperature.

“Too often in the past people have been drawn to the cooling waters on a hot day, only to find that they are simply not capable of functioning in the low temperatures encountered in the deeper water.

“Often this results in a call to the emergency services and in some instances with a fatal outcome.”

Bored youngsters can also end up trespassing onto building sites, wandering into open quarries, or even across railway lines which present obvious hazards.

The other unlikely place youngsters can face danger is in their own homes.  When it comes to safety at home, over half of accidental fires in the home start in the kitchen.

Top tips

  • Do not leave young children alone in the kitchen
  • Ensure pan handles are not within grasp of mischievous little ones
  • Ensure wires such as kettle cords or irons are safely tucked away
  • Keep matches and lighters away from young children

Between the calendar years 2011 to 2013, 142 children under 16 were hurt in fires across West Yorkshire, while 84 were injured in road traffic collisions.

Meanwhile, 74 (of the same age bracket) were injured after being involved in other incidents which required a technical rescue, this includes anything from entrapments to water rescues. 

For more fire safety advice visit www.westyorksfire.gov.uk where people can also book a free Home Fire Safety Check online; alternatively call 0800 587 4536.