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NSRI says 200 likely to drown during festive season

The National Search and Rescue Institute (NSRI) said it was expecting about 200 drownings during the festive season. Picture: File

The National Search and Rescue Institute (NSRI) said it was expecting about 200 drownings during the festive season. Picture: File

Published Dec 17, 2021

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Betty Moleya

Pretoria - Each summer South Africa sees an increase in drownings, particularly during the festive season.

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The National Search and Rescue Institute (NSRI) said it was expecting about 200 drownings during the festive season.

Executive director for drowning prevention at the NSRI, Dr Jill Fortuin, said while looking after children in or near water, adults had to focus on the children and nothing else.

“Adults who are supervising children should not be distracted nor use their cellphones, as it is not possible to concentrate on children in the water and be on your phone at the same time,” Fortuin said.

"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.”

Fortuin advised parents to use child-safe pool fences and child-safe pool covers or nets.

She said it was important to swim at beaches where and when lifeguards were on duty.

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“If lifeguards are not on duty, do not swim. Only swim between the lifeguard flags, and teach children that if they swim between the lifeguard flags… just wave an arm if you need help," Fortuin advised.

People are also advised not to not drink alcohol and then swim… When intoxicated, one loses the power to control your body or focus, she said.

Fortuin said rip currents were one of the most deadly causes of drowning, and that if people swam between the lifeguard flags they would be safe, and if for any reason this was not possible, people should not swim.

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“Educate yourself about rip currents. Unfortunately, for various reasons people regularly swim where there are no lifeguards on duty,” she warned.

She said often the person who did not survive was the person who went into the water to try to help someone in difficulty. They should never try to attempt a rescue by themselves, as it could be dangerous and fatal.

“In a typical scenario, sea rescue gets an emergency call for a swimmer in difficulty and, when we get there, we find two or more people in danger of drowning. Tragically, sometimes we are not able to get there in time and someone drowns."

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Drowning affects all ages and both genders and spans an entire season. Whether for fun and relaxation, peddling boats, on ships or boats, or fishermen who got into accidents while in the sea or dam, it can happen to anyone.

“In case of any emergency, dial 112 from any cellphone,” said Fortuin. “It is very important that you plan ahead to be safe. Never go swimming alone, as conditions are unpredictable.

“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 late.”

Pretoria News

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