Safety warnings ahead of Midsummer celebrations

Midsummer is by far the biggest celebration on the Latvian calendar, and while it is generally an idyllic period, it does come with a few additional dangers, as demonstrated by an outpouring of cautionary warnings from officials and emergency services.

Most obviously, there is the risk that gatherings could spread the coronavirus, so the official advice is to stay in family groups as much as possible and to continue to observe social distancing rules even while singing songs and leaping over bonfires. See our earlier story for the rules on social gatherings.

The Disease Prevention and Control Center (SPKC) which has been spearheading Latvia's COVID-19 response suggests celebrating at home, and in the open air with family and friends while keeping up the sanitary routines that COVID-19 has made necessary.

"Observe hand hygiene - wash hands thoroughly and often. Personal hygiene should also be observed when celebrating in a place where water availability is limited. It is best to wash your hands with soap, under running water, but if this is not possible, you can also use disinfectants or wet wipes for hand hygiene. When washing your hands - make sure that children do the same!" urges the SPKC

People belonging to one of the risk groups (seniors, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, etc.) are encouraged by the SPKC to refrain from visiting public places, as well as not to accept guests.

The State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) usually has plenty on its plate over the holiday period. As well as the inherent safety risks caused by bonfires and barbecues, there is the risk of drowning when people go for swims in rivers and lakes -- particularly if they have consumed alcohol. As a result, the VUGD has produced a special video reminding people of the risks of drowning and urging them to use lifevests and buoyancy aids. Two men go for a paddle, only one wears a life vest. Guess how many return?

Well, actually they both do. But as the VUGD points out, the story could easily have ended differently.

 

Further adding to the risks is a heatwave which poses the threat of forest fires, sunstroke and dehydration for the unprepared. Stay hydrated, wear a hat, do not expose yourself to direct sunlight more than necessary and go easy on the alcohol if you choose to consume it. Speaking of which, the State Police will also be carrying out their usual intensified checks for drunk drivers and are currently running a campaign about the dangers of aggressive driving, too. They also have their own video campaign, this one featuring blood-soaked BMWs.

 

So wherever and however you will be celebrating Midsummer, please do so safely with thought given in advance to how it could all go wrong!

VUGD Midsummer safety advice
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