With restrictions on beaches now being lifted, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has urged people to remain vigilant around waters.
NSRI reports that on average about 2,000 people in South Africa are victims of fatal drownings each year, of these about 600 are children.
“In addition to this there are many, many others who live with the trauma and sometimes disability caused by a non-fatal drowning,” said Slindile Mkhize from the NSRI Drowning Prevention programme.
Mkhize said cases of drownings have continued to rise recently despite the lockdown with beaches and public pools being closed.
“More drownings occur inland than in the sea, most children under the age of five drown around the house in buckets, basins, baths or swimming pools as well as in pit latrines for those who stay in the rural areas,” he said.
The NSRI is urging people to be aware around dams and rivers, especially when around young children.
This can be done by constantly checking the water depth and making sure that the rocks are not slippers.
The NSRI also urges beachgoers to swim only at beaches where lifeguards are on duty.
Early this month, a 24-year-old fisherman was washed away by rough waves at Durban’s North Beach, after participating in the sardine run.
His body has still not been recovered. Should anyone fall into the water, do not enter to try and rescue them, pleaded Mkhize.
“Too often a person drowns too when they are trying to save a friend. It is safer to rather use a stick that they can hold onto while you pull them out. You can also throw something for them to hold onto like an item of clothing or towel. An item that floats, like an empty, sealed plastic container works well too,” he said.
Sea Rescue water safety instructors usually go out into schools and communities to do water safety presentations.
This article first appeared on Berea Mail and was republished with permission.