Safe summer in Scotland

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Published Date: 

7 Jul 2014 - 16:26

New campaign to help people stay safe during the summer

Argyll and Bute Council are supporting a new national campaign to help to ensure people stay safe during the summer period and beyond.

As the days get longer and the weather hopefully gets better many more of us will spend time outdoors enjoying, sport, recreation and relaxation. In addition to the general advice, the council’s environmental health team has included other advice on a range of specific issues on a new web page.

The general advice on summer safety is available on the NHS Choices website at:

There is some advice on Argyll and Bute specific issues which can be found:

This includes guidance on dangerous plants, exploring the great outdoors and shellfish collection

Dangerous plants

There is a general NHS guide to hazardous plants at:

In Argyll you may come across giant hogweed, the stem of which is green with dark purple spots/blotches and sparse spiky hairs with deeply cut and spiked leaf lobes, which emerge in dark green rosettes

The sap from hogweed is an irritant and can cause severe burns on the skin. If giant hogweed is found it should be chemically sprayed. Never use a strimmer – this will cause the sap to become airborne.

You may also come across ragwort plants which are upright and tough, with the base sometimes being tinged with red and the flowers being large, flat topped and yellow in colour

These plants are toxic and suitable precautions should be taken when handling them, both live and dead.

Exploring the great outdoors

If you are thinking of taking to the hills this summer the Mountaineering Council of Scotland suggests that you should pay extra attention to what lies in the undergrowth. Exposed skin, can leave hillwalkers vulnerable to tick borne diseases such as lyme disease.     

You can reduce the risks of infection by avoiding unnecessarily disturbing bushes, keeping to the centre of paths and covering up exposed areas of your body

Shellfish collection

Bivalve shellfish such as mussels, cockles, oysters and razors are commonly found along the shore and coastal waters within Argyll and Bute.

These shellfish are filter feeders, using their gills to filter large volumes of water to capture food such as phytoplankton. However, certain species of phytoplankton can produce biotoxins which may accumulate in the tissue of the shellfish.

The uptake of these biotoxins by shellfish is highly variable but there is a particular risk in the summer months when phytoplankton algal blooms are most prevalent.

If you are planning the gathering of shellfish outside of recognised production areas then the presence of harmful contaminants being present is unknown as no monitoring is undertaken by the local authority.  

You should take precautions to ensure that there are no obvious signs of contamination of the surrounding area, including sewerage outflow pipes and similar that may discharge in some areas.

Be aware that contamination may not be visible and that bacteria and viruses, along with potential chemical contamination is possible. It is at the gatherers own risk should you wish to consume bivalve shellfish from these areas.

Keeping cool

Whatever you are doing over the summer months you should keep yourself cool. Sometimes the temperature is so hot that your body is unable to cool itself. You should regularly drink cool fluids – don’t wait until you get thirsty

You should avoid alcohol and caffeine because these can leave you dehydrated. You should also avoid extreme physical exertion

Be prepared for the weather this summer by getting your forecast online or by downloading the free Met Office app