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Local News Summary of August, 7th

  • Good times or bad times for the ferries in the heat
  • The importance of behaving the right way around wasps


Good times or bad times for the ferries in the heat

The heat wave brings daily challenges for the ferries, e.g. deep water levels, less passengers, and unskilled Rhine swimmers.

Ferries are usually popular for Rhine swimmers in the summer: A quick journey over the Rhine and jumping off into the cool river. But this summer, the low water levels have change the passage over the river: «At the moment, our journeys are very slow», Alex, a ferryman with the Klingental ferry, said. The low level slows down the journey but it is never cancelled. «In the end we still have oars», Alex said, laughing. Of course this would never happen, although Alex must be more careful than usual. He must watch out for the big barges and the Rhine swimmers.

More and more tourists in the Rhine

Skilled swimmers and the ferry usually don't hinder each other. It can however come to dangerous situations when the ferry is confronted with unskilled swimmers who do not know how to avoid the boat. «We encounter this situation on a daily basis», Alex said. There are more and more tourists who seek to cool down despite their poor swimming skills. They often forget that the Rhine is a river with rules and dangers. They are often annoyed with the ferrymen, and sometimes threaten to sue them if they don't stop their journeys. On the river however, tolerance is especially important: While ferrymen look out for swimmers, this should also be vice versa.

One ferry benefits from the hot weather

One ferry especially benefits from the Rhine swimming craze. Martin Reidiger, leaseholder of the St Alban ferry, takes a very positive look at the situation. «During these hot summer holidays, we have had significantly more passengers.» It's ideal for Rhine swimmers because the ferry takes them directly to the starting point. «Most of them use our ferry to start the Rhine swimming in Kleinbasel», Mr Reidiger said. The course starts at Tinguely Museum and ends at Dreisrosenbrücke which in these hot days means half an hour of cooling down.

Too hot for the ferry

Even if people are invading the shores and seek to cool down in the river, the Klingental ferryman said he has not registered record numbers of passengers. Regulars are not around and even if tourists like to use the ferries they seek shaded places to hang out. «It was extraordinarily quiet at the weekend», Alex said. The ferrymen at the Münster and the St Johann jetty points describe similar situations. If it's too hot passengers don't come, especially in the afternoon, confirmed Rémy, a ferryman with the Ueli ferry at St Johann.

Thank you dear ferrymen!

Despite fewer customers, he said he still enjoys the summer, especially the warm evenings: «My shift starts in the late afternoon and ends late at night.» People come to enjoy the breeze on the Rhine and want to conclude the evening on the ferry. «I also get street musicians who are looking for a special atmosphere.» He said he is not aware of the problems with the swimmers: «On my shift only the last swimmers are around.» And since he carried fewer passengers than the other ferries, he can take it slow. It's time to thank the ferrymen for the beautiful passages and the little time-out which is always the case when using the ferry.

The importance of behaving the right way around wasps

People with allergies need to watch out: Wasps are around now. And since they cannot find food because of the drought, they are especially persistent. They can even become dangerous even for non-allergic people. aha! Allergy Center Switzerland gives valuable tips.

At a barbecue or a snack at the outdoor swimming pool – wasps come even if they are not invited. However, this year an «epidemic» is not to be expected unlike in earlier years, according to Christian Schwizer from the Federal research centre, Agroscope. But the insects were rather aggressive since the heat is also a threat for them: «Due to the drought they find much less food than usual, there are less caterpillars they could hunt and less rotting fruit on the ground.» Therefore they try persistently to take from our plates to feed their offspring. Wasps have a similar taste to humans, beverages and food containing sugar and carbohydrate and also proteins. It's therefore important to find the right behaviour:

Prevent being stung by insects

Keep calm around wasps, «they consider hasty movements as a threat», said Karin Stalder, expert at aha! Allergy Center Switzerland. She emphasises: «Don't leave any leftovers in the open and clean your children's mouth after eating.» Never drink directly from bottles or tins and wear shoes in the grass. Since odours attract wasps, avoid too strongly perfumed hair sprays, shampoos, or sun cream.

Right behaviour after being stung

If a wasp stings you nevertheless, immediate measurements must be taken – regardless if one is allergic or not. «Cold water or ice cubes eases the pain and the swelling». When being stung in the mouth go to the emergency doctor immediately since the airways might swell up, too. «Cool down your throat from in- and outside to keep the swelling down with ice-cubes or ice-cream», Mrs Stalder said.

Know the symptoms

A normal reaction to a sting is a one to ten centimetres long area of hurting and itchy swelling which can last for a few hours. If the swelling is bigger and lasts longer than 24 hours, it is the case of a severe local reaction. «But it's in general not dangerous», said the expert. If the symptoms are local swelling, itchiness, nettle rash, vomiting or shortness of breath or palpitations, you need to call a doctor immediately: «Then it's an allergic reaction which can cause hypotension, loss of consciousness, apnoea, or a cardiovascular collapse and therefore is life threatening. This is a so-called anaphylactic shock», said Mrs Stalder.

Allergies: Have your emergency kit ready at all times

Around 3–4 per cent of the Swiss population suffer from life threatening allergies against insects. One bite can be life threatening. These people are recommended to carry an emergency first-aid kit with them at all times. «After a sting the prescribed drugs such as antihistamine, cortisone, and sometimes an adrenalin-injection have to be taken before the first allergic reaction occur. Then call a doctor», Mrs Stalder said. Suspected allergies against poison from insects should be examined at a doctor's surgery.

Fight the cause

Desensitisation or a specific immunotherapy (SIT) helps to find the cause for an allergy against poison from insects. According to Mrs Stalder, «the treatment lasts for three to five years and leads to a complete protection for 95 per cent of the patients».