Posted: Thursday 25th May 2017
As temperatures soar over the next couple of days, many of us will head outside to bask in the long-awaited sunshine. A picnic, barbecue or a camping trip in the great outdoors of the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside is a great way to enjoy the lovely weather at the moment.
Unfortunately, a spell of warm weather can also bring safety hazards. The countryside becomes very dry and it does not take very much to start a fire. A blaze in woodland, grass or crops can be very difficult to tackle and can take a lot of time and manpower to fully extinguish.
In the majority of cases these fires are not life threatening but they can cause damage to farmland, public open spaces and wildlife that can take many years to recover. By following some simple safety advice while spending time outside, outdoor fires can be easily prevented.
It is also vital to take care around open water and be aware of the risks of swimming outdoors. If you’re near a river, canal, lake or reservoir, it may be tempting to dive in and cool off in the sweltering heat. But according to the Royal Life Saving Society, around 85% of accidental drownings occur at these open water sites. Many of these drownings occur due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of water safety.
Director of Community Protection and Chief Fire Officer at Hertfordshire County Council, Darryl Keen, said: "We want people to enjoy the sunshine over the bank holiday weekend. But hot, sunny weather increases the chances of outdoor fires, which can destroy the countryside we should be trying to preserve for future generations. So it is really important to be aware of fire hazards if you are spending time outside. Also, if you are going to be near water, it is vital that you are aware of the risks and follow water safety advice. So, if you’re planning to head out into the sunshine while it lasts, make sure you avoid any risks so you can have a good, and most importantly safe, weekend.”
If you’re out enjoying the beautiful weather this bank holiday weekend, please remember the following safety tips:
•Try to avoid lighting open fires outside wherever possible
• Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended
• Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue; use only recognised lighters or starter fuels on coal
• Keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies
• Enjoy yourself, but don’t drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbecue
• Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues and make sure your barbecue is placed well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste
• Empty ashes from the barbecue onto bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins. If they’re hot, they can melt the plastic and start a fire
• Clear up and take your rubbish home after a picnic in the countryside
If you are near open water:
• Don’t swim in unsupervised (lifeguarded) sites
• Swim parallel with the shore, where you can quickly get to safety
• Swim with friends or family, so that you can help each other if you need to
•Look for signs and advice about the specific dangers at the place where you are swimming
If you are camping:
• Never use candles in or near a tent – torches are safer
• Set up tents at least six metres apart and away from parked cars
• Don’t smoke inside a tent
• Place your cooking area well away from the tent
If you discover a fire, leave the area and call 999 immediately. Don’t be tempted to investigate or return unless the fire and rescue service tells you it is safe to do so.
For more information on fire safety, please visit http://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/fire or call 0300 123 4046.
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