With the New Year celebrations fast approaching, the Kouga Municipality has issued safety tips to bathers in an attempt to prevent accidents and drownings.
It is expected that numbers of beachgoers will increase in numbers as throngs of people make the symbolic pilgrimage to the beach to celebrate the start of the new year.
Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said numbers traditionally start growing from New Year’s Eve and lifeguards are called to duty more often than on normal festive season days.
“We would like to plead with people to cooperate with our lifeguards and swim only in demarcated areas, between the yellow and red flags.”
“We are also making a call to bathers to avoid the ‘no swimming’ areas where we have put up boards for people not to swim as it may take a while for rescue services to reach one and the worst may occur,” he said.
Hendricks said it was noted that people also tended to go out to swim after midnight on the 31st as part of celebrating the New Year.
“This is unadvisable as this is not a time scheduled for swimming and therefore no lifeguards will be on the beach and bathers would be swimming at own risk.”
On the main beach in Jeffreys Bay, the busiest of the beaches, lifeguards leave the beachside at 6 p.m, while at other beaches they leave at 5p.m.
One is able to see there are no lifeguards by the absence of the bathing area signs such as the red and yellow flags.
The Mayor said Kouga lifeguards and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) will be on standby for emergency situations on New Year’s Eve, even though swimming at night was highly discouraged.
To report a sea rescue emergency, one can approach any lifeguard on the beach or call the NSRI’s 24/7 emergency number on 079 916 0390.