South Africans will be flocking to the coastal areas like Jeffreys Bay for the summer holidays. While a day at the beach is one of the ultimate pleasures while on holiday, there are dangers when going for a swim.
Here are some safety tips:
1. Swim at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty.
Lifeguards are on duty at selected beaches between on weekends and during the week during summer school holidays. Listen to their advice and talk to them about safety on the beach that you are visiting. They are the experts on that beach. If lifeguards are not on duty do not swim.
2. Swim between the lifeguard’s 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. Lifeguards watch swimmers very carefully between the flags – just wave an arm if you need help.
3. Don’t Drink and Drown
Alcohol and water do not mix. Never drink alcohol and then go to swim.
4. Don’t swim alone. Always swim with a buddy.
If you are with a buddy while swimming there is someone who can call for help if you need it and you can’t wave to the lifeguards or call for help yourself.
5. Adult supervision and barriers to water are vital.
Adults who are supervising children in or near water must be able to swim. This is vital if it is at a water body that does not have lifeguards on duty.
It is extremely dangerous to get into the water to rescue someone so rather throw something that floats to the person in difficulty and call for help (112 from a cell phone and check for the nearest Sea Rescue station telephone number before you visit a beach – put that number into your cell phone).
6. Know how to survive rip currents.
If you swim between the lifeguard flags they will make sure that you are safe and well away from rip currents. If you get caught in a rip current, dont panic – go with the current until it stops pulling you out to sea. Then swim sideways and then back to the beach.
7. Don’t attempt a rescue yourself.
Call a lifeguard or the NSRI by dialling 112 from your cell phone for help. If you see someone in difficulty call a lifeguard at once or dial the nearest Sea Rescue station from your cell phone.
You should put this number into your phone before you go to the beach. You can Google for the closest NSRI station emergency number. 112 is a good emergency number – for any emergency – to dial from your cell phone.
8. Do not let children use floating objects, toys or tire tubes at the beach or on dams.
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 they will drown.
9. Do not be distracted by your cell phone or social media.
While you are looking after children in or near water you need to focus on them and nothing else. Adults who are supervising children should not be distracted or use their cell phone. It is not possible to concentrate on children in the water and be on your phone at the same time.
10. Visit a beach that has lifeguards on duty – there is a reason that we have repeated this!
Please remember that drowning is completely silent. Someone who is drowning will usually not shout for help.
They will be vertical in the water (like they are trying to stand or climb stairs) and they will then silently slip under the water. Listening for children (or adults) in difficulty in the water is not good enough, you must be watching them very carefully.
Make sure that they are not getting in too deep or being moved by currents and swept away from the safe swimming area.