Attractions entice and endanger

2016-10-18 06:00

Cape Town’s many attractions entice visitors from all over the globe, especially over the busy holiday season in December and January, but the increased crowds and lack of familiarity with the city’s beaches, mountains and roads can present a hazard to those who are unprepared.

Each year there are locals and visitors who encounter problems while swimming at the city’s beaches or hiking on the mountains without following standard safety guidelines, cautions Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy.

Beach safety

Beach-goers may find themselves in trouble while swimming, even at relatively shallow spots, where rip currents are present. These can overpower even seasoned swimmers and take them out of their depth. The power of these currents can cause those swimmers to panic, explains Duminy.

“It’s best to swim in places where lifeguards are present. Deserted beaches may seem like a paradise, but signs at those spots will generally warn that there are unpredictable sea conditions such as freak waves or powerful currents. Compounding any beach swimming risk is the consumption of alcohol – not only is this not allowed, it can put the swimmer in great danger from the sea.”

Duminy advises following some basic safety rules:

. Swim at beaches only where lifeguards are present.

. Do not drink alcohol before swimming.

. Ask locals if a beach is safe to swim at.

. Familiarise yourself with rip currents, and how to spot them.

. Don’t swim in heavy swells or at times when visibility is limited.

. Follow safety rules at swimming pools

Mountains

Table Mountain range is one of the city’s greatest assets, but, despite seeming safe, can present many dangers, especially for inexperienced hikers.

The weather at sea level can be very different to the weather up on the mountain, warns Duminy.

“Hike in a group, with an experienced hiker who knows the route. Take warm or waterproof clothes along in case the weather changes and wear appropriate footwear. Let someone at home or at your holiday accommodation know you’re hiking, where you’re going and when you expect to return.”

Duminy suggests taking food and water supplies, as well as avoiding taking valuables with. “Ensure that at least one of the party has a charged cellphone. Don’t stray from marked paths; there are dangerous gullies and cliffs, and staying on paths also help to prevent damage to the flora and fauna.”

RoadsVisitors may not be familiar with the city’s roads, and may drive unpredictably.

The roads may also be busier than usual over holiday periods, and, in rainy conditions in particular, drivers should exercise caution.

Duminy adds: “As locals, we can help visitors by sharing some of the basic safety rules that will help them to enjoy exploring while limiting any risks. While our beaches and mountains are exquisite, the power of nature must always be respected. Sanparks, lifeguards, the police and many other agencies will have a greater presence during summer season.”

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