19 drown in KZN waters

2014-12-29 00:00

DECEMBER has been a recorded as a veritable black month with 19 recorded drowning deaths.

Swimming pools, rivers and murky dams have been identified as posing the most danger, with 70% of the total death toll.

This as legions of lifeguards keep their eyes fixed on the masses, more than 300 000, who have flocked to KZN’s beaches.

Life Saving South Africa chairperson Mike Raubenheimer said the majority of those who died were adults.

“Of the 19 people that have drowned since December 1, four were children under the age of 10,” he said.

He added that children often wandered off and would go straight to the water as they would see adults swimming and want to join in on the fun.

“People do not realise the danger water poses to children. Kids are careless and adults have to take precautions to keep them safe,” he said.

Of the 19 drownings, 13 occurred inland in swimming pools, dams and rivers.

Raubenheimer said that the other incidents were mostly alcohol related.

“This is the biggest issue we find in adult drownings,” he said.

Many people would consume alcohol and decide to go for a swim and then just disappear, he said.

A police source, who could not be named, said in the last four days alone there have been four drownings across the province.

Last week a freak wave hit Wedge Beach in Durban and swept 40 people out to sea.

According to the source, a man in his forties drowned despite the efforts of life-guards to revive him after he was struck by the rogue wave.

The search for the body of a 19-year-old boy continues after he was swept out to sea in Salmon Bay, Ballito, last Friday.

In another incident on Christmas eve, a 10-year-boy nearly drowned after falling into a swimming pool in Durban’s Bluff.

Rescue Care spokesperson Garrith Jamieson said the boy was playing near the pool and slipped and fell into the water. He said bystanders immediately jumped in and rescued him.

His rescuers performed CPR and revived the child who was later taken to hospital.

“We would like to urge all people to ensure you either have a safety net over your pool or proper fencing, drowning incidents happen in a split second.”

This was echoed by ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak who said children should be supervised regardless of how well they can swim.

“Do not leave toys in the swimming pool as children might try to reach for it and fall into the water.

“If the children are supervised by an adult while they are swimming, parents should make sure that the adult is responsible, sober and alert,” said Vermaak.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Tips for safe swimming these holidays

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