KZN police warn holiday bathers to think before they dive
With endless beach days ahead, police have warned enthusiastic bathers to exercise extreme caution before taking dips in the ocean, dams, rivers and swimming pools.
"This warning comes after a number of people have drowned recently in parts of the KwaZulu-Natal province," said police spokesperson Lt-Col Thulani Zwane.
"As the festive season approaches, drowning is an ever-present risk when people go on outings to rivers, beaches, dams and swimming pools," he said.
"Many incidents of drowning are linked to the misuse of alcohol and recklessness.
"Before entering the sea, swimmers must take time to watch the waves and must avoid places where there is a strong backwash, obvious rip currents or a danger of being washed onto the rocks," said Zwane.
Police also warned bathers not to swim when intoxicated.
"Alcohol impairs judgement and unnecessary risks are taken. An intoxicated swimmer will tire more easily, increasing the chance of an accident or drowning. Check with the lifeguards on duty what the surf conditions are before entering the sea."
Police tips to avoid drowning:
• Only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. If they give you directions or instructions from the beach, obey. Look out for warning signs and flags – a red flag means it is dangerous to swim. A red-and-yellow flag means lifeguards are on duty and you should only swim in the area between the flags.
• Avoid swimming immediately after a big meal, because there is a danger of having cramps.
• Do not swim in river mouths, in dirty water, early in the mornings, early evenings or after it has rained as shark activity increases in these conditions.
• Do not swim when bluebottles are present because they are poisonous.
• Never leave a young child unattended near water and never make a child responsible for another child – not even for five minutes. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
• If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing drowning or permanent disability.
• Swimming aids, such as water wings or noodles, are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used instead of approved flotation devices.