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Summer safety

Summer's a time for having fun. Longer evenings and higher temperatures give more opportunities for getting out and about. Even when the weather's not so good, there just seems to be more options for things to do.  We've got lots of ideas here on Get Ready for the Great British Summer, not just for when it's hot and sunny, but in all types of weather.

While you're enjoying yourself, it's still important to stay safe - even in summer. After all, it's not just winter when the weather causes problems. That's why we've included information to help you stay safe this summer.

The RNLI has advice on beach safety, while Cancer Research UK and AgeUK give top tips for helping you and your family stay safe in the sun, especially when UV levels are high.

Pollen levels can soar in the heat so read about the links between pollen and health. You can also find out how to keep your cool when things get really hot. The UK's leading veterinary charity, PDSA, explains why it's important to look after your pets in hot weather along with providing top tips to keep them safe during outdoor events.

Although we don't get wildfires on the scale seen in the USA recently, fires are started needlessly in remote parts of the UK every year, causing problems for landowners and the fire service. Every year fire destroys thousands of acres of countryside, forestry and other wildlife habitats across the country. Some fires are started deliberately, but most could easily be prevented by following some simple safety advice.

Roy Harold, Deputy Chief Fire Officer at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, provides a few simple tips for making sure you and your family stay safe this summer whatever you are planning, be it a barbecue or a boat trip and what to do if you come across a wildfire."

Fire safety advice

As well as issuing general safety advice about being careful with matches, barbecues and discarded cigarettes fire officers are asking people to please be aware of the following:

  • One of the biggest dangers is people using flammable liquids to light the barbecue. Please prepare well in advance and light the charcoal early.
  • Don't have a bonfire of any size during a sustained dry period. This is particularly important in rural areas.
  • If you see a fire please ring 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service even for a small fire, it can very soon become a big fire and get out of control.
  • We may be very busy but we are never too busy to answer your call.
  • For anyone working on the land it is essential to have at least one fire extinguisher on your vehicle, preferably water. If possible have a water browser, slurry tanker or sprayer nearby when harvesting or baling.
  • Do not fill your fuel tank completely full during hot weather. Fuel must have room to expand.
  • Anyone planning to use fireworks/Chinese lanterns is asked to exercise caution as a stray firework/lantern is an obvious hazard.

Wildfires

Dry ground in the summer means there's an added risk of a fire starting, but you should take care at all times of the year.  Follow these tips to reduce the chance of a wildfire in the countryside:

  • Extinguish cigarettes properly and don't throw cigarette ends on the ground - take your litter home.
  • Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.
  • Avoid using open fires in the countryside.
  • Don't leave bottles or glass in woodland - sunlight shining through glass can start fires (take them home and recycle them).
  • Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended.
  • If you see a fire in the countryside, report it to the fire and rescue service immediately.
  • Don't attempt to tackle fires that can't be put out with a bucket of water - leave the area as quickly as possible

Summer downpours can bring summer flooding, so advice from the Environment Agency on protecting homes and property from floodwater is just as relevant at this time of year. And sometimes those downpours come with thunder and lightning which can be dangerous. Do you know what to do if you are caught outside in a thunderstorm?

The Met Office issues fewer severe weather warnings in the summer but, in most summers, there will still be some. Find out what the different warnings mean with our National Severe Weather Warning Service information.

Staying safe in the sun

Safe summer swimming

There are about 260 accidental drowning deaths in inland waters in Britain each year - about 60 per cent of the total number of accidental water deaths.

Follow the advice from The Royal Life Saving Society UK to stay safe this summer:

Don't:

  • Swim at unsupervised (un-lifeguarded sites)
  • Jump into the water until you have acclimatised to the water temperature
  • Jump into the water from extreme heights
  • Swim into deep water which will be colder

Do:

  • Swim at supervised (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
  • Think about what you will do if something goes wrong

Contact a reputable outdoor pursuits or coasteering centre if you want to take part in more extreme activities

Dangers of open water include:

  • The height of the fall or jump if tombstoning
  • The depth of the water - this changes and is unpredictable
  • Submerged objects may not be visible
  • Obstacles or other people in the water
  • Lack of safety equipment and increased difficulty for rescue
  • The shock of cold water can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty in getting out of the water
  • Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away
  • Uneven banks and river beds 
  • Water quality eg toxic algal blooms and industrial/agricultural pollution

All of these hazards can be controlled through proper organisation and planning.

If someone is in difficulty in the water:

  • Shout reassurance to them and shout for help and ensure the emergency services are on their way (call 999 or 112)
  • Without endangering yourself, see if you can reach out to them, extend your reach with a stick, pole, item of clothing, lie down or stay secure. Alternatively throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy, part filled plastic container, ball or anything that will float. 
  • Keep your eye on them all the time and shout reassurance urging them to propel themselves to safety

For more water safety advice or details on lifesaving courses suitable for children and adults from The Royal Life Saving Society UK.

Royal life saving society

Related pages

More information

Summer flooding Flooding

There are a number of things you can do in advance to prepare for flooding and to minimise its effects.

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