Quarry water is a stone-cold killer. Stay out. Stay alive.

Date published: 10 April 2019

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has warned the general public of the dangers of swimming in disused quarries.

As the Easter holidays and summer period approaches the likelihood of good weather brings additional risks. Parents are urged to speak to their children about the dangers that they are unwittingly subjecting themselves to when they visit disused quarries.

Director of Regulatory and Natural Resources Policy at DAERA, Dave Foster said: “I would appeal to parents and young people to be aware of the dangers of disused quarries and not to enter any body of water. Quarries are not a playground and quarry lakes in particular, pose the greatest risk. They are often much colder than rivers, lakes and reservoirs as they can be fed by water sources that originate deep underground. A sudden plunge into cold water initiates a gasp response, which can cause drowning within seconds.

“After four minutes in cold water, poor blood circulation causes stiff fingers, reduced coordination and loss of strength. Swimming to safety and pulling yourself out of the water, or even treading water to stay afloat, may no longer be possible. Quarry water really is a stone cold killer. The message is clear. Stay out. Stay alive.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The campaign ‘Quarry water is a stone cold killer. Stay out, stay alive’ was developed following an extensive audit of disused quarries by the district councils which helped identify the highest risk sites and the features within each site which made them so dangerous. The risks, relate not only to cold water, but to hazards including submerged machinery which may not be visible from the surface, rubbish and industrial pollution which can cause skin and eye irritations, rashes and infections. 
  2. The poster and leaflet are available to download from nidirect.
  3. Whilst the campaign focuses on disused quarries, all bodies of water, including rivers, lakes, reservoirs and the sea, pose a risk to human life. The campaign’s message applies universally.  DAERA has a limited policy role relating to disused quarries. Legislation gives district councils the power to serve a notice on quarry owners to improve fencing, only in specific situations. DAERA has no remit over operational quarries. These are regulated by the HSENI which requires adequate security at operational quarries. As such, operational quarries are not as easily accesses by teenagers/young adults.
  4. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook 
  5. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on: 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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