Water safety promoted

2016-12-15 06:02

IF you put them all together, children who drown each year in South Africa would fit into nine double decker buses. This is according to the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) which together with Tower 13 Lifeguards, have initiated a water safety programme which will be conducted throughout the holiday season at Port Edward beach.

A Drowning Prevention pilot project has launched in Port Edward and NSRI volunteers teamed up with Tower 13 Lifeguards with the backing of the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality and the Port Edward Rate Payers Association.

“Port Edward was chosen as it is on the border of the Eastern Cape and KZN. Both provinces have unacceptably high drowning statistics and we feel that this proactive educational lifeguarding that is targeted at the local community will help to combat this,” said NSRI CEO, Dr Cleeve Robertson.

“We are confident that teaching people about beach safety before they reach the water will reduce drowning incidents,” said Dr Robertson.

NSRI coxswain, Ruahn Beattie, has spent the last days of the 2016 school year teaching local school children about water safety with a specific focus on the Port Edward beach area and rip currents.

Over the last month the Tower 13 Lifeguard Services and Sea Rescue volunteers have been training together to make sure that their response to any situation is fast and efficient.

“Together we can have a far greater impact than we can alone,” said Port Edward Station Commander John Nicholas.

“When visitors arrive at the beach, our rescue crew and the lifeguards talk to as many people as possible, teaching them about the rip currents and explaining the reason that they should swim between the lifeguard flags,” said John.

Tower 13 manager Sheldon Roux said both teams will be assisting the public by teaching them about beach safety and they will be reminded that drinking alcohol before swimming is extremely dangerous.

Justin Mackrory, CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism said a memorandum of understanding has been drafted between the district and the Eastern Cape Tourism department to make provision for more awareness campaigns.

“Once that is finalised, these campaigns will be spread further into the Eastern Cape,” he said.

The Port Edwards Ratepayers Association has sang the praises of both the NRSI and Tower 13 Lifeguards for amalgamating and taking the intiative to conduct this much needed swimming safety campaign.

Chairman, Peter Brereton said there had been 18 drowning and 23 near drownings in the past 18 months. “The problem is that we don’t have permanent lifeguards. They’re only there on a weekend and public holidays, yet Port Edward beach is such a busy beach,” he said.

“The NSRI has saved many, if not all of those victims of near drownings. We cannot thank them enough for the sterling work they do in the area and that, as a non-profit organisation. We hope this campaign will save many lives and prevent unnecessary drownings.”

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