Cape Town – With the summer festive season rapidly approaching, the NSRI has wished everyone a safe summer and urged the public to adopt a water safety mindset around coastal and inland waters.
“Our rule number one for a safe experience at the beach is to choose a beach that has lifeguards on duty and to swim between their flags,” National Sea Rescue Institute spokesperson Craig Lambinon said.
“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, for various reasons, people regularly swim where there were no lifeguards on duty. This may be on a beach before or after the lifeguard’s duty for the day or at a beach that does not have lifeguards. This is when things can go wrong,” he said.
In a typical scenario, the NSRI got an emergency call for a swimmer in difficulty and, when the crew got there, they found two or more people in danger of drowning. Tragically, sometimes the NSRI crew were not able to get there in time and someone drowned.
Often the person who did not survive was the good Samaritan who went into the water to try and help a person in difficulty. Because this happened so frequently, NSRI launched its pink rescue buoy project in November 2017. These bright pink rescue buoys were hung on strategically placed signs to remind people to take care when entering water and not to swim if lifeguards were 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 explaining how to use the rescue buoy. And most importantly, the emergency number for the closest NSRI station is printed on the sign, Lambinon said.
– Make sure you have emergency numbers that you may need saved in your cellphone. Dial 112 from any cellphone in any emergency. Or simply Google sea rescue or NSRI for the closest station’s telephone number.
– 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, and 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 turn your back on the sea and rock anglers are advised to wear a life jacket and know when spring high tide is.
– If you are paddling or if you are on a boat, before you launch, download and always use the NSRI’s free SafeTrx app.
– Don’t drink alcohol and then swim. Don’t swim alone. Always swim with a buddy. Know how to survive rip currents. Don’t attempt a rescue yourself.
– Adult supervision and barriers to water are vital. Watch children who are using floating objects, toys or tire tubes at the beach or on dams very carefully. Never use these if the wind may blow them away from the shallow water.
– Drowning is silent. Watch children when they are in or near water. Do not be distracted by your cellphone or social media while you are looking after children in or near water. You need to focus on them and nothing else.
“NSRI are appealing to everyone launching any kind of craft onto water, coastal and inland, to download and use the NSRI RSA SafeTrx free cellphone app, have responsible family members monitor your trip using SafeTrx and carry safety equipment.
RSA Safetrx, is available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Boaters, paddlers, and sailors should wear appropriate gear for the water temperature and weather conditions forecast by the SA Weather Service, monitor SAWS weather forecasts, wear a properly fitting life jacket (children should be fitted into child life jackets). Carry red distress flares and know how to use them.
Carry a cellphone in a watertight plastic sleeve with RSA SafeTrx downloaded on your phone and use it. Wear a referee whistle around your neck. Stick reflective 3M tape on your craft. Make sure your craft is in a serviceable and working condition. Make sure your cellphone is properly charged and have a VHF marine radio with batteries fully charged. Prepare and brief everyone involved for an emergency before you launch onto water, Lambinon said.