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    Have fun in the sun but think about the risks

    Warm, dry weather inevitably means more people head out to the countryside to have picnics and BBQs, and young people especially, seek open water to have a swim.
    But as the pleasant weather continues, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is urging people to think about their safety during the summer holidays.

    Norfolk has thousands of acres of beautiful countryside to be enjoyed, but a long spell of warm weather means vegetation and crops dry out and can catch fire.

    Already since 1 April this year, the Fire and Rescue Service has attended over 370 fires in the open and in forestry across the county. These include the blaze at Thetford Forest on 1 July and the fire at Fritton Woods on the same day which was started deliberately.

    Stuart Horth, Head of Community Safety at NFRS, said: “In partnership with the Police, we have improved our capabilities to investigate fires and catch those who set them deliberately. Fires in the open not only cause a danger to human life but also destroy wildlife and the livelihood of rural communities.
    “Some of the fires we see in the countryside are started deliberately, but most are due to careless and thoughtless actions. So they could be avoided by taking just a little extra care.”
    Water safety

    On the surface, lakes and quarries can seem like an attractive place to swim, but people often do not appreciate that even after a spell of warm weather deep water can be cold enough just below the surface to produce a reflex action where swimmers inhale water into their lungs.

    There may also be other unexpected hazards including steep banks which make it difficult to get out of the water, underwater pumps, weeds that can entangle legs, concealed obstructions such as old machinery, or the high alkalinity of the water in some limestone quarries.

    Stuart Horth said: “More people die drowning in open water than as a result of accidental fires in the home. In the UK, around 400 people die every year from drowning as a result of an accident in or around water. In Norfolk, we don’t want a repeat of the terrible incident which took place at Bawsey Pits two years ago.
    “We want people to enjoy themselves but it is important they understand the risks and don’t ignore the warning signs. Our advice would also be to swim in water which is lifeguarded or join an organised swimming club.”

    Cllr Paul Smyth, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “I hope people will follow the advice provided by the Fire and Rescue Service. Norfolk is a fantastic county to explore, but please do not be blasé about your safety. Fires in the countryside can spread quickly and remember that some hazards when swimming may not be immediately obvious.”

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