Council issues safety warning as summer weather heats up
August 12, 2022
With temperatures set to reach almost 30 degrees in the North East this week, Northumberland County Council is urging residents and visitors to be extra careful if they are planning to enjoy the coast and countryside.
As part of its ‘Love it Like its Yours’ campaign with Visit Northumberland and other partner organisations, the county council wants to welcome visitors but also remind people to act responsibly.
Risk of heat stroke, wildfires and keeping safe in the water, be that lakes, rivers or in the sea, are of particular importance when the warmer weather hits, especially in popular beauty spots such as Druridge Bay, Bamburgh and Alnmouth.
Ian Woods, Howick Station Officer, HM Coastguard, said: “It’s already been a busy year and we need everyone to be careful whether they’re on the beach or at a lake or river. “Last year was our busiest on record and this year looks like it could match that.”
“We want to ensure everyone’s safety by reminding them of the basics when it comes to water safety whether you’re heading out to paddleboard, for some wild swimming or just for a paddle.
“Always check the weather as well as the tide times and plan ahead keeping in mind how you can avoid busy popular spots. Stay hydrated by drinking water, not alcohol, to avoid sunstroke and apply sunscreen regularly. It all sounds simple but it’s vital.
“Remember, even in the hot weather, cold water shock is a real risk. So, it’s important to acclimatise yourself rather than just jumping in, don’t go out of your depth and where possible avoid going swimming alone. If you find yourself in trouble then the advice is to try and lean back and float. Use your arms and legs to help you get into this position, and try to stay calm.
“If you are with someone who gets into difficulty in the water then give them this advice and call emergency services for help. If you can, use an object to try and reach for them but don’t put yourself in danger by entering the water.”
Another concern is campfires and barbecues leading to wildfires. Northumberland has experienced nine wildfires so far this year, which is more than in the whole of 2021.
This is why campaign partners, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), Northumberland National Park Authority and Forestry England are asking visitors not to light campfires or use barbecues in the county’s countryside.
Paul Hedley, Chief Fire Officer for Northumberland Fire and Rescue, said: “With the prolonged period of hot dry weather wildfires are becoming increasingly common, but many are caused by human actions which can be avoided.
“We want the public to help us maintain our availability to deal with emergencies by not using disposable BBQs, or lighting campfires and open fires in the countryside and not discarding cigarettes and glass bottles.
“While we don’t want to discourage people from getting out and about in our glorious county and enjoying themselves, we do want to ensure that everyone is doing so safely and we prevent wildfires from occurring.”
Margaret Anderson, Senior Ranger at Northumberland National Park, added: “For anyone visiting Northumberland National Park this summer, we ask you to help us to care for this unique and special landscape.
“We’re seeing an increase in people lighting open fires in the National Park, particularly in the Breamish Valley and these can have devastating effects on the surrounding landscape and wildlife. “For example, it can take up to 48 hours for the ashes from a disposable barbecue to cool down completely and even then, disturbing ashes can introduce oxygen and reignite smouldering ashes. Please avoid open fires and barbeques and consider a picnic for your day-out instead.
“Northumberland National Park, loved by many for its tranquillity, culture, heritage and nature, will continue to be enjoyed by future generations if we all do our bit to help maintain these beautiful landscapes.”
Councillor John Riddle, Northumberland County Council Cabinet Member responsible for Local Services, added: “While the temperatures are high, please follow the advice not to light disposable barbecues and to remain vigilant when going swimming and be aware of the hazards. Remember to keep cool, stay hydrated, apply sunscreen and follow local advice when visiting our county whether you head to the coast or our countryside.”
Andrew Fox, Chair of Visit Northumberland, added: “The warm weather always brings an influx of visitors to the county however during these spells of dry weather, there is an increased risk of wildfires, which can be devastating to the landscape and wildlife. There is also a focus on water safety as people of all ages head to our beaches and lakes for some summer sunshine.
“While we’re looking forward to welcoming all our visitors we’d just remind people to behave responsibly and love Northumberland like it’s their own so everyone can stay safe and enjoy all it has to offer this summer.”