Holiday tips: Safe swimming - respect the sea

2016-12-15 06:01

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We find hundreds of thousands of holiday makers flocking to our beautiful South African beaches in summer time. Your focus to Arrive Alive does not stop when the vehicle stops at the holiday destination. Respect the sea, the currents and the need for caution.

.Before entering the sea swimmers should take time to watch the waves and should avoid places where there is a strong backwash, obvious rip currents or a danger of being washed on to rocks.

. Check the weather and tides before you leave home - if the seas are too rough then you could get swept away.

.Enter only where the waves are straight and gentle.

.If you experience a strong current get out of the sea, or remain well within your depth.

.It is better to swim when the tide is rising as the sea will tend to wash you ashore and the backwash and rip currents are not so strong.

.Check with the lifeguard on surf conditions before swimming.

.Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.

.If lifeguards give you directions or instructions from the stand, obey them. Look out for warning signs and flags:

Red flag means it’s dangerous to swim.

Red and yellow flag means lifeguards are on patrol and you should swim in the area between flags.

.Be considerate of other swimmers especially when surfing.

.Never swim while intoxicated. Alcohol impairs judgement, unnecessary risks are taken and a swimmer will tire more easily, increasing the chance of an accident.

.Avoid swimming immediately after a big meal, as there is a danger of getting cramps.

.Don’t dive into shallow sea – there are many paraplegics who broke their necks diving into shallow pools.

.Don’t swim in river mouths, dirty water or when bluebottles are present.

.Never swim alone – use the buddy system.

.If you are confronted by a large wave and there is not enough time to get away from it, try to dive underneath the wave. Keep your body as low as possible until the wave passes over you. Timing is important, dive into the base of the wave just before it breaks. Do not dive if the water is too shallow – instead crouch and keep a low body profile.

.If caught in rip currents, relax and swim toward the shore at a 45-degree angle until you are free of the current. Do not try to swim ashore against the current – it will only tire you. If the rip currents are strong, swim parallel with the shoreline in the same direction as the littoral current and then swim diagonally toward the shore. If you are not able to swim out of the currents, call or wave for help.

.Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not entrust a child’s life to another child; teach children always to ask permission to go near water.

.If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.

.Be alert and steer clear of plant and animal life. Jellyfish, stingrays and other marine animals can cause painful stings or allergic reactions. Brushing up against certain types of seaweed can result in painful scratches and scrapes.(-Issued: Arrive Alive)


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