Cape Town - The chairperson of the Blue Water Bay Lifesaving Club in Port Elizabeth is on a mission to prevent drownings as temperatures soar and the holiday season approaches.
David Bamber has even produced a children's story book, Thabo and Tandeka, in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa to help little ones stay safe around the beaches, rivers and dams.
Bamber said there were 17 drownings in the Nelson Mandela Bay last year. Eleven were in rivers and dams; nine were in the Swartberg River and six in the ocean.
His illustrated book takes readers on an adventure with Thabo and Tandeka, who decide on a whim to go swimming in the river.
Fortunately, they bump into their uncle Ben at the river and he demonstrated the ways of water to show them how easy it is to get into grave danger, even if you can swim.
"It's not the numbers of rescues you do. It is about preventing situations which could lead to drowning. We want to keep bathers away from dangerous areas," Bamber said.
Lagoon mouths, estuaries and rivers were considered among the most dangerous places to swim, because people were fooled by the depth and currents, he said.
The club has added the book to its arsenal of quad bikes, two-way radios, rescue boards and shark attack kits and would distribute them in the area in the hope of driving the water safety message home.
Research by Netcare911 on last year's holidays showed there was a distinction between inland and coastal drowning incidents. Coastal incidents seemed to involve 10- to 18-year-olds more, but, with inland incidents 2- to 8-year-olds were the victims.
Netcare911 warned: "Be vigilant and keep a watchful eye on the children around water. Keep pool gates locked or cover your pool with a certified pool net."