Safety tips around water activities

Be water savvy this summer. Photo: Pixabay


Recent months have seen an increase in the number of drowning incidents ER24 has responded to.

According to the emergency medical service, two people lost their lives in two separate incidents in KwaZulu-Natal dams and a one-year-old drowned in the swimming pool of his family’s home in Kempton Park.

Advanced life support paramedic at ER24 Natasha Kriel shared her knowledge about drowning incidents and what safety tips to follow when spending time next to the pool or at the beach.

“Holidaymakers flock to the beaches for some relaxation time during summer. It is sometimes difficult to ensure that all swimmers are water safety conscious, especially when they swim at beaches or dams where there are no active lifeguards on duty.

Designated swimming areas at the beach are there for a reason, don’t swim far from patrollers. They are there for safety, not just for the currents but also closer to where the lifeguards are – which in turn ensures that our response times are shorter, quicker and we can get to the person before they submerge,” said Kriel.

Safety tips around pools:

  • Secure your pool area with appropriate barriers which can’t be pushed down by little children
  • Never leave children unsupervised near water
  • Stay within arm’s length from little children as they submerge very quickly – especially if the water is murky
  • Make sure that children don’t play rough in the pool and jump on top of one another
  • It is important that adults who supervise must be able to swim as well
  • Remember that anyone, including people who can swim, is at risk of drowning
  • Avoid taking risks and being overconfident.

“One of the biggest dangers is when the children get in trouble and family members jump in to assist but they can’t swim either and we end up with mass casualties. This happens at beaches and dams quite often.”

Safety tips around beaches:

  • Swim where there are lifeguards on duty. Go during lifeguard patrolling hours. It will usually be from 10am to 6pm. Don’t swim before or after that. You can still visit the beach at that time but try to stay out of the water until lifeguards arrive
  • Make sure that you are seen by lifeguards in the water. Don’t swim outside the designated swimming area, i.e. outside the flags. This area is chosen because there are no currents and it is outside the surf zones
  • Swimmers need to watch out for surfers and surfers need to watch out for swimmers
  • Don’t drink alcohol on the beach. This is illegal and extremely dangerous. Alcohol dulls your senses, which in turn makes it difficult to swim. You don’t realise that you may be hypothermic and that your limbs don’t work as well as they should
  • By dulling your senses, alcohol may inhibit your ability to sense when your children are in danger
  • Never swim alone.

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Sonwabile Antonie

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