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Increase in drownings reported since lifting of lockdown regulations

DHL Lifesaving South Africa lifeguards at Clifton 4th Beach, Cape Town. Picture: CARL FOURIE

DHL Lifesaving South Africa lifeguards at Clifton 4th Beach, Cape Town. Picture: CARL FOURIE

Published Apr 11, 2022

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Cape Town - The easing of lockdown restrictions and people returning to the beaches has resulted in more drownings.

Lifesaving SA said it had noted an increase in drownings in recent weeks and was concerned about the Easter weekend.

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General manager Helen Herbert advised people to take precautions and swim only where lifeguards were on duty.

“Swim only between the designated red and yellow bathing beacons and flags and always while obeying instructions from lifeguards.”

Herbert urged adults to always supervise young children near water, especially swimming pools, in the home, and at bath time, and near uncovered vessels containing water, including buckets and pit latrines.

Mayco member for Community Services and Health, Patricia van der Ross, said: “Children under the age of 15 are statistically at greater risk of drowning than any other age group of individuals. It is critical that parents and caregivers actively supervise children around water, and ensure minors do not venture out of sight when in their care.”

Lifesaving SA called on the government to enact legislation that could prevent drownings, especially with the increased incidents since Covid-19 lockdown regulations were lifted.

“National legislation around water safety needs to be addressed at all levels of government. Municipalities and venue management need to provide more information on safe aquatic usage and appoint more lifeguards to create additional safe swimming areas on beaches and at pools,” Herbert said.

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Van der Ross said there was ongoing public communication and awareness about how to avoid the risk of accidental drowning to address this.

Lifesaving SA president Dhaya Sewduth recommended legislation governing school excursions that must compel organisers to notify the relevant beach offices in advance so that the necessary advice and guidance on where the scholars could swim serve as a preventative mechanism.

DHL Lifesaving South Africa lifeguards in Cape Town. | CARL FOURIE

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