Don’t be an ice breaker

Stoke-on-Trent has more than its fair share of park lakes, rivers & canals all of which are tempting playgrounds when they freeze over and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have launched a DVD highlighting the dangers of young people playing on ice in preparation for the winter.

The film, entitled ‘Ice Breaker’ has been launched as part of the Winter Safety Campaign.

Schools are being urged to play the short five minute film during assemblies, if freezing temperatures are forecast.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Youth Education Co-ordinator, Steve Wright said

The DVD was created due to a growing number of incidents across the country which involved people going into frozen water and falling through the ice. Though the DVD features young actors it also serves as a safety warning for adults as well. Whilst ice may look thick, it doesn’t take much weight to crack the ice and before you know if, you’ve fallen through.  Iced over water has dangerously low temperatures which would be a real shock to the system and means that people can very quickly get into difficulty. We hope that by watching this DVD people will think twice about going out onto frozen bodies of water, whether they do it for fun or to retrieve a pet or item the message is clear – it could be the last thing you do.

Ice Breaker from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Se on Vimeo.

Fire Fighters Rescue Dog From Lake

Fire crews from Longton and Newcastle were called to Queens Park in Longton yesterday to rescue a German Shepherd which had fallen through the ice covering the lake.

Crews arrived at around 1130 to carry out the rescue operation using an inflatable walkway to reach the two year old dog and pull her to safety.

The dog was quite distressed and had been in the water for almost twenty minutes. Crews used the inflatable walkway to safely reach the dog before putting harnesses around her and guiding her onto the walkway so she could be led to safety. Thankfully none of the members of the public who witnessed the incident had attempted to rescue the dog themselves and had remained a safe distance away from the ice to await our arrival which was the appropriate thing to do. We’d also like to once again remind owners to keep their dogs on leads around water and ice.

Crews left the scene at 12.15pm after reuniting the dog with her owner.

Pictures provided by Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service

British Waterways Say Stay ‘SAFE’

British Waterways Say Stay ‘SAFE’ And Don’t Slip Up On Icy Towpaths

The historic waterways around the city can look particularly picturesque on crisp winter days, with Christmas-card perfect frosty scenes and with some freezing over altogether. British Waterways is reminding visitors that the cold weather brings its own particular hazards and is calling on people to take extra care during this cold spell.

Towpaths, bridges and lock-sides can be particularly slippery at this time of year and snow can conceal trip hazards such as boat mooring rings close to the water’s edge. Frozen waterways may look idyllic but can be very dangerous, and visitors should never attempt to walk on the ice. This is particularly important with activities involving young children such as feeding the ducks, while dog walkers should also be aware of the dangers. British Waterways’ message for visitors is to stay SAFE by Staying Away From the Edge.

Peter Wade, safety adviser at British Waterways, explains, ‘The canals and rivers are beautiful places to visit in the winter and there’s nothing better than a stroll along the towpath to walk off some of the festive season’s excesses. It is vital however that people take particular care to avoid turning a gentle walk into a miserable visit to A&E or worse. Children should be accompanied by an adult when they visit a waterway and should be made aware of the potential hazards, and we urge all visitors to stay safely away from the edge.’

Police & Fire Services Issue Winter Safety Warnings

Staffordshire Police and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have issued safety warnings to remind people of the dangers of playing on frozen ponds & canals.

On Tuesday Police were called to Holden Lake, at Holden Bridge, opposite the Horn and Trumpet after a concerned member of the public had called after spotting four children playing on the small lake.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said ‘We are urging parents to keep a close eye on their children as the cold snap continues to take hold. Make sure you know where your children are. What can appear as harmless fun could lead to something very serious if ice breaks.’

Staffordshire Fire & Rescue spokesman said, ‘Unfortunately we have also seen an increase in incidents on frozen lakes and pools, particularly on days when schools have been closed. Frozen lakes and pools are not playgrounds and we’d urge parents to explain this to their children. At the moment the water in lakes and ponds is of a dangerously low temperature and if people fall through the ice they will quickly get into difficulty because the cold water is a real shock to the system.’

And continued, ‘Newcastle and Tamworth stations both have water rescue units, which include inflatable walkways for use on ice, however this shouldn’t detract from the point that people shouldn’t risk their lives by playing on the ice.’

They went on to give this advice, ‘If you see someone, or a pet, fall through the ice and get into difficulty never try and rescue them yourself instead ring 999 and ask for the Fire Service immediately.’

Staffordshire Police also asked for common sense when coming across children or youths throwing snow balls. ‘Is it really a matter for the police?

BUT don’t confuse damage to property/personal injury with winter fun. Throwing snow balls at passing vehicles or windows is dangerous and could lead to prosecution.’

To Grit Or Not To Grit

How appropriate that just as we have the first cold snap of the winter period the City Council proposes to slash the number of roads that are gritted by nearly half, to save £100,000 per year. At a meeting on Wednesday, finance officers responded to councillors concerns with the well rehearsed line, “We are going to have to make some tough choices this year!”.

We. WE!

To City Council officers these are just costings; lines on a budget sheet. Councillors have to make the tough decisions on the budget ““ we will be the ones held to account by the public while they carry on sitting in their cosy offices picking up their fat pay cheques.

Meanwhile, the biggest losers will be the public, footing the bill.

Ross Irving, said:

“Protect public services from the need to cut the budget due to the recession.”

Well what are the consequences of cutting the gritting budget in half ““ reducing the coverage of roads from 46% down to 25%?

In pure logistical terms the cut will mean all bus routes off the main roads will not be treated, according to a senior officer with responsibility for responsive highways maintenance. It will also mean some main road in Stoke-on-Trent (A and B roads) will also not be gritted. Not side streets but the main arteries of the City.

For Stoke-on-Trent as a whole it will mean no buses on estates, stranding workers, school children and pensioners in their own homes. If we have a prolonged cold snap this could be very serious particularly for pensioners.

It will mean in severe weather, gridlock like we have never seen it before, untreated main roads, increased likelihood of accidents with potential fatal results.

What cost then to the City to save £100,000 per year. Wages lost to low paid staff unable to get into work. Business lost through lack of customers and missed deliveries. These are just some results and I am sure there are many, many more.

A simple, innocent looking single line in a budget cutting report. A torrent of negative consequences.

Just one more reason why every single proposed cut needs to be put under the spotlight and thoroughly scrutinised ““ not just given a tick with the stroke of a pen and a pat on the back.