Water safety for the holiday season

The NSRI is urging the public to follow basic safety precautions when taking to the water.

With beaches, pools, dams and lakes drawing large crowds during summer, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is appealing to the public to take basic safety precautions in and around water.

NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon says coastal bathers are encouraged to only swim at beaches protected by lifeguards and then only between the flags posted by them.

“Lifeguards regularly move these flags when they detect rip currents forming. Please obey the lifeguards instructions to only swim in between their flags.”

Families visiting the beach should approach the lifeguards if they are separated from each other or need assistance.

Fishermen, coastline anglers and hikers are asked to take heed of spring tides. This month’s full moon spring tide peaked on Sunday December 19, and the new moon spring tide peaks on January 2.

Boaters, paddlers and sail boarders should wear properly fitting and fastened life-jackets and ensure their crafts are in working order.

Boaters, paddlers and sailors should download and use the free NSRI SafeTrx cellphone app and have safety equipment and an emergency plan in place, Mr Lambinon says.

“Parents, please ensure that there is a designated responsible person watching over your children wherever they are swimming or engaged in any kind of water related activities.”

The NSRI has developed a safety monitor ID tag to be worn by the responsible person who is overseeing children while they are swimming. Mr Lambinon says it is best to change the on-duty person, every half an hour, so they don’t get distracted by cellphone calls or conversations.

“Do not drink alcohol and then go swimming, boating, paddling or sailboarding.“

He advises anyone caught in a rip current not to panic but to use the air in their lungs for natural buoyancy to stay afloat and to tread water and keep their head above water.

Go with the rip current, do not try to swim against the current, he says. Call out for help. At your first opportunity, swim across the beachfront until you are free from the rip current and then use the incoming waves to get to the beach.

To report a water emergency, call the general emergency number, 112, from your cellphone or call the NSRI at 087 094 9774.

To download the SafeTrx app or for more information about the safety monitor ID tag or rip currents, visit nsri.org.za,