- The first International Drowning Prevention Day took place on Sunday.
- The NSRI marked the event by laying down buoys in the shape of the number 75 to celebrate the 75 lives saved through the use of its pink buoys since 2017.
- There are more than 1 000 pink buoys at beaches around South Africa as part of an NSRI water safety initiative.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) commemorated the first International Drowning Prevention Day at Rocklands Beach in Cape Town on Sunday.
The United Nations has adopted a resolution, dedicating 25 July for the global advocacy of drowning prevention.
At the event on Sunday, 200 buoys were laid down in the shape of the number 75 to celebrate the 75 lives that were saved with the use of the NSRI's Pink Rescue Buoys since 2017.
The pink buoys are part of a water safety
initiative by the NSRI and more than 1 000 have been deployed across South
"The rescue buoys are bright pink so that they can be easily spotted on the water by responding emergency services. There is also a unique location number on the signpost so that crucial minutes can be saved for emergency services to help those in danger of drowning," said Jill Fortuin, NSRI Director of Drowning Prevention.
On Sunday, the NSRI also handed awards to three men – William Boltmann, Richard Boltmann and Francois Koekemoer – who used a pink rescue buoy to save two fishermen who were washed off the rocks at Rooi Els.
Rocklands Beach was the site where four youths were swept off the rocks and drowned in 2019.
But according to Fortuin, tragedies like the Rocklands Beach one are preventable.
"We are delighted to join the world in recognising drowning for the issue that it is. In South Africa, 1 500 people drown every year. [Of those, 450] are children under the age of 14," said Fortuin.
In South Africa, drowning rates are the highest among children who are younger than four years old, followed by children aged five to 14. In very young children, 70% of drowning deaths take place in or around the home in ponds, pools, bathtubs and buckets, she added.
The NSRI has introduced several initiatives that
target high-risk areas and communities across the country. These have taken the
form of water-safety lessons in schools, pop-up survival swimming classes at
public swimming pools, water-safety learning materials that are freely
available, and the rollout of the Pink Rescue Buoys at public swimming areas,
such as beaches and dams.
"The NSRI is proud of the difference that they have made in helping to reduce the number of drownings in South Africa. Since 2006, the NSRI has been teaching water safety in schools around the country. In total, our 20 full-time water safety instructors have reached just over three million people (mostly primary school children) with our lessons on how to be safe in and near water, as well as how to do bystander CPR," Fortuin said.
Fortuin urged water users to immediately call the emergency numbers on the Pink Rescue Buoy sign, or 112 from a cellphone if someone is in danger of drowning.
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