By Emsie Martin
It is that time of the year again and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) urges the public to adopt a water safety mind-set around coastal and inland waters.
- For a safe experience at the beach, choose a beach that has lifeguards on duty and swim between their flags. If you do that, you don’t need to worry about rip currents, or suddenly getting out of your depth. Putting an arm in the air and waving for help will get a rapid response from the lifeguards on duty.
Unfortunately, people regularly swim where there are no lifeguards on duty. This is when things can go wrong.
Often the person who does not survive is the one who went into the water to try and help someone who was in difficulty. Because this happens so frequently, Sea Rescue launched their Pink Rescue Buoy project in November 2017. These bright pink rescue buoys are hung on strategically placed signs to remind people to take care when entering water – and not to swim if lifeguards are not on duty at that stretch of the beach.
If there is an incident and someone needs help these buoys can be thrown to the person in trouble in the water, providing them with emergency flotation. There are clear graphics on the sign which explain how to use the rescue buoy. Most importantly, the emergency number for the closest Sea Rescue station is printed on the sign.
Have a plan in place in the event of an emergency:
- Make sure you have emergency numbers saved on your cell phone. Dial 112 from any cell phone in any emergency.
- Check the wind, weather and tides before going to the beach, fishing or boating.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you are due back. Make sure that they know your route, your intentions and who to call if you are overdue.
- When climbing on rocks or fishing from rocks – never ever turn your back on the sea. Rock anglers are strongly advised to wear a lifejacket and to know when spring high tide is.
- If you are paddling or if you are on a boat, before you launch, download and always use NSRI’s free SafeTrx app: http://www.nsri.org.za/safetrx
Safety tips to bear in mind this summer:
- Swim at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty.
- Swim between the lifeguards’ flags. Teach children that if they swim between the lifeguards’ flags, the lifeguards will be watching them and can help if there is a problem.
- Don’t drink alcohol and then swim.
- Don’t swim alone. Always swim with a buddy.
- Adult supervision and barriers to water are vital. Adults who are supervising children in or near water must be able to swim. Children should not be able to get to water through or over barriers such as pool fences.
- Know how to survive rip currents. If you swim between the lifeguards’ flags they will make sure that you are safe and well away from rip currents.
- Don’t attempt a rescue yourself.
- If you see someone in difficulty, call a lifeguard at once or dial the nearest Sea Rescue station from your cell phone. After calling for help, try and throw something that floats to the person in difficulty.
- Watch children who are using floating objects, toys or tyres at the beach or on dams very carefully. You can very quickly get blown away from the shore and as much fun as tubes and Styrofoam are, it is easy to fall off them. If a child can’t swim and falls off in deep water he/she will drown.
- Adults who are supervising children should not be distracted or use their cell phone while looking after children in or near water. You need to focus on them and nothing else.
- Learn how to do CPR. Have the emergency numbers saved in your phone.