Cape Town's beach safety plan for summer

2013-10-11 08:46

Cape Town - With over a million people having visited Cape Town's beaches last summer, the city has ensured that all measures are in place to keep beachgoers safe this Festive Season. Residents are urged to keep safe at beaches and behave responsibly while enjoying the City's amenities. 

The City of Cape Town's beaches are ready to host locals and visitors this summer, with 400 - 500 trained and accredited lifeguards being deployed to various beaches between 10:00 and 18:00 daily throughout the summer season. This forms part of the City's annual Festive Season Safety Plan and is in addition to Lifesaving Western Province's volunteer services, the National Sea Rescue Insitute and the medic helicopter. 

In addition to the above, the City will make beach wheelchairs available at 10 of its beaches. The provision of these wheelchairs underscores our commitment to being an Inclusive City, by enhancing access to natural resources for all residents. 

Lifeguards will be deployed at the following beaches: Big Bay (Blue Flag); Clovelly; Fish Hoek; Macassar; Maiden's Cove; Strandfontein (Blue Flag); Milnerton; Glencairn; Muizenberg (Blue Flag); Strand; Silwerstroom; Alpha; Clifton (Blue Flag); St James; False Bay; Kogel Bay; Danger; Mnandi (Blue Flag); Llandudno (Blue Flag); Bikini (Blue Flag); Hout Bay; Camps Bay (Blue Flag); Gordon's Bay; and Monwabisi. 

Lifeguards will be on the beaches between 10:00 and 18:00 on the following days:

5 October - 30 November All of the listed beaches for weekends only
1 December - 31 December All of the listed beaches daily
1 January - 2 May All non-Blue Flag beaches on weekends, public holidays and school holidays
1 December - 31 March All Blue Flag beaches daily

The City appeals to all beachgoers to adhere to the following beach safety tips:

- Swim only where there a lifeguards and where signs indicate that it is safe to do so.

- Make sure that lifeguards can see you when you are in the water.

- Do not swim where lifeguards are not present.

- Always swim between the red and yellow flags. These indicate safe, supervised swimming areas. Areas outside these flags might conceal dangerous currents and tides. Only swim in areas where other people are present.

- If you find yourself in trouble, raise your arm to attract the lifeguard's attention. Try not to panic as this will tire you.

- If you see someone else in trouble in the sea, alert the lifeguards or find help. Do not put your own life in danger as well. 

- Ensure that you protect your skin from exposure to the sun. 

- Don't drink alcohol before swimming or driving motor boats. The use of alcohol dulls the senses, slows the reactions and can lead to irresponsible behaviour.

- Don't dive from tidal pool walls - this can result in spinal injuries. 
- Do not take small or unstable boats out far from the shore in choppy water or bad weather.

Rip currents

A rip current is a strong, narrow surface current that flows rapidly away from the shore. Often rip currents move slowly enough to barely be detected. Given the right circumstances of waves and beach profile, they can develop into currents moving at speeds of up to 2 metres per second - faster than any of us can swim. Ranging in size from just a few metres to hundreds of metres, their pull can be to just outside the breaking waves to over two hundred metres from shore. As with all risks, avoiding rips altogether is safest. Rip currents are not always visually detectable but stronger rip currents give some tell-tale signs:

- Water through a surf zone that is a different colour from the surrounding water
- A break in the incoming pattern of waves
- Seaweed or debris moving out through the surf zone
- Isolated turbulent and choppy water in the surf zone

If you are caught in a rip current the most important thing to do is to stay calm and relax. Swim slowly and conservatively parallel to the shoreline or relax and let it carry you out past the breakers until it slacks. Contrary to myth - rip currents are not "undertow," which a misleading term. They will not pull you under the water. 

As long as you can tread water or float you will be safe until you can escape the flow and head back to the beach. When you head back in, do so at an angle to the shoreline. Maintain a slow and relaxed pace until you reach the shore or assistance arrives. If you are swimming at a beach where lifeguards are on duty - and you should be - they will most likely have seen you and will be on their way out to help (or be watching carefully).


Any emergency and/or distress call regarding a drowning incident can be reported to the City's 107 emergency number. Dial 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.

Read more on:    cape town  |  travel  |  holidays  |  travel south africa  |  adventure

SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside Travel


#FindYourEscape with Traveller24

Your insider guide to exploring South Africa and the world...
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.