Tuesday 16 July 2013

The dangers of open water in the heatwave

I left Malvern last Friday at 6.30pm. I called my 21 year old son to say bye and added 'Don't go swimming at Gullet Quarry'

A young man drowned there last week. I arrived back in Monmouth to hear that a man in his 20's had also drowned at the quarry.

I did what ever Parent does, my heart skipped a beat, I rang my 21 year old son, he didn't answer, I googled, I searched twitter. It wasn't my son. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then guilt, then upset for the family.

During my Google and twitter search I learnt about the death of a 18 year old that my 18 year old son played football with many years ago. The following day I heard that he had died in a quad bike accident. I only learnt of the name of the young man who drowned in the quarry this morning.

Both deaths were tragic and could've been avoided. Especially the drowning at Gullet Quarry, as it was the 2nd death there that week. You'll see from the article about the first young man that died that people were still swimming in the quarry despite knowing of his death the previous weekend.

People seem to think they're invincible, they all know better, it will never happen to them. I used to swim with my mates in the River Wye, unsupervised, as a teenager. I never even considered I may drown, I was a competent swimmer, belonged to a club, but I never factored into it, the cold water, items in the river that I could get caught up in, cramps etc. I needed to cool down, I was with others doing the same thing, I jumped in the river.

Drowning isn't a noisy affair, it's silent, you may not notice someone is drowning.

According to a witness to the 2nd death at Gullet Quarry:

“He was in the water then he said ‘help!’ But he said it really calmly. Then he went under the water. I looked over to see if he needed help. I saw him come to the surface and he said ‘help’ again. He looked like he was swimming no problem, treading water. I thought he was messing around and I looked away and then, all of a sudden, a girl started screaming ‘he’s not come back up!’ and people started getting in the water to look for him. Three or four lads got in to try and help. If he had screamed help there would have been people straight in the water.”

Drowning isn't like it's pictured on the TV, this is the reality of someone drowning.

I guess we can warn our children of the dangers, show them the stories, the pictures, ask them not to do something that could ultimately end their life. But they all know about the deaths, but they all thing it'll never happen to them.

Three families have lost a son in the past week. My heart goes out to them all.

1 comment:

  1. and the reason people drown in deep water (quarries etc) is not because they are poor swimmers, it can and will happen because your body overrides your concious movements when it hits cold water. Here is a quote from the National Institute of Health on how a body responds to sudden immersion in cold water…

    A fall in skin temperature elicits a powerful cardiorespiratory response, termed “cold shock," comprising an initial gasp, hypertension, and hyperventilation despite a profound hypocapnia. […] The respiratory responses to skin cooling override both conscious and other autonomic respiratory controls and may act as a precursor to drowning.

    Don’t Go Swimming in a Quarry

    Most deaths that occur in abandoned mines and quarries are drownings. Most of the people who drown didn’t fall in by accident. They went there to swim. Don’t swim in a quarry. The water can be dangerously cold, there are no lifeguards, no rescue equipment and it is simply not safe.

    from http://geology.com/articles/abandoned-mines.shtml

    Thanks for this post it's a vital, sad and timely reminder.