Bathers and beachgoers are being urged to be more cautious while visiting the ocean as the City has already recorded more fatal drownings this year than last year’s festive season.
Two more teenagers fatally drowned and 56 children were lost and reunited with their family at the beach over the weekend, raising concerns over how cautious locals and visitors are when near the ocean.
The total number of fatal drownings has been pushed up to 12, and this number already surpasses the total for the whole of the festive season last year and 2019’s festive season has just begun.
Lifeguards have had their work cut out for them assisting in a number of drownings and successfully rescuing 11 swimmers this year so far.
“It is absolutely heart-breaking to lose a loved one, particularly at this time of year. The City campaigns to keep beachgoers safe as far as possible with the provision of lifeguards, resources and a deluge of information. We urgently need our bathers to exercise caution in and around the ocean. We want all beachgoers to enjoy their holiday, but to do so without endangering themselves or anyone else,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.
Most drowning incidents are due to lack of caution and bathers getting caught in rip currents. Many of these incidents could be avoided if swimmers were more careful when visiting the beach.
The City’s Identikidz project, facilitated by the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department, had a strong start over the long weekend, with 21 510 children tagged at 16 beaches across the metropole.
Children arriving at the beaches are issued with an identification armband and should the child be separated from their caregiver/parent, staff will work with other role-players to ensure the reunification of lost children.
“Of the number of children who were tagged, 56 wandered away from their group, but because of the programme they were all reunited with loved ones. The Identikidz Programme has to be commended for ensuring that little ones who get lost are returned safely. However, this does not mean parents or caregivers can abdicate their responsibility and I urge them to keep an eye on their children,”said Councillor Badroodien.
Beachgoers are reminded of the four key messages aimed at keeping them safe:
– Swim between the red and yellow flags only where lifeguards are present
– Supervise children at all times
– Beware of rip currents
– Don’t drink and swim
The City has 282 seasonal beach lifeguards, in addition to 11 permanent senior beach lifeguards, who are stationed at 26 locations along the coast, including certain tidal pools.
“Follow the rules to stay safe. Don’t underestimate the power of the ocean and make sure you swim where you can see our lifeguards. Drowning is preventable but we cannot do it alone. I implore bathers to help us keep them safe,” said Councillor Badroodien.
Lifeguards are stationed at the following beaches: