Council Help Promote ‘Water Safety’ Competition
NI Water, Quarry Products Association NI and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have joined forces to put out a strong message to the community, especially children and young people, to stay away from disused reservoirs, quarries and other bodies of water that are not open for public access.
Part of the new campaign involves a competition, open to all youth and community groups in Northern Ireland, to encourage safety around water. Entrants can record a video, design a poster, stage a drama piece, or enter by any other creative means and Council along with NI Water and Quarry Products Association NI are encouraging groups to get involved. The winner will receive two iPads for use by their community group.
Water bodies can often be beautiful places, and are ideal for a family picnic or a walk. However, Michael Bergin, Health and Safety Manager at NI Water explains, “There’s a very real danger lurking beneath the water. Understandably, a reservoir can look like the perfect place to cool down and have some fun with friends. However, below the surface lie some hidden dangers: Strong undercurrents can drag you under or sweep even the strongest swimmer away from the edge; Weeds and plants can entangle you and prevent you from resurfacing; There are often pipes and valves located just beneath the surface that may not be visible; Water is continually being drawn through these pipes causing strong currents to be formed in their vicinity; Reservoir/Quarry water is very deep and dangerously cold; and Reservoirs/Quarries can be in isolated places, therefore, it is likely to be too late for help to arrive if you are in trouble.”
Michael continued, “We would appeal to parents to explain to children and young people the dangers of playing in or around these areas. We are delighted to be working alongside Quarry Products Association NI and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to promote this vital message, one that is important at all times of the year, not just the summer.’’
Gordon Best, Regional Director of Quarry Products Association NI said, ‘‘Safety around water is a matter of concern and we are very keen to raise awareness of the dangers as we enter the summer period. This is part of a campaign launched by the Department of the Environment and the Department of Justice, with widespread support from other agencies, to promote awareness of water safety in Northern Ireland. Quarry Products Association NI is pleased to work alongside NI Water in the promotion of our competition designed to raise awareness.”
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Cllr Naomi Bailie said, ‘‘Swim in a reservoir or disused quarry and you could end up in serious danger. You may think you can handle it, that you’re a strong swimmer but even on the warmest of days, the water is still bitterly cold and you can lose control in seconds. We appeal to everyone to recognise the dangers and take care around water this summer. A swim or a dip may seem like a great idea, but it could all end in tragedy. Don’t take the risk.
Cllr Bailie continued, “This is a unique opportunity for groups across our community to showcase their creative talents through the mediums of YouTube, online forums or other methods to warn people of all ages of the dangers of water.’’
Depending on format, competition entries can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted FAO: Water Safety Competition, Westland House, 40 Old Westland Road, Belfast, BT14 6TE. These MUST arrive before 5pm on Friday 7 August 2015. Winners will be at the discretion of the judges.