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Tomorrow, Thursday 13th of December, The New Moon brings with it SPRING TIDE. Until the end of the coming weekend expect higher than normal high tide, lower than normal low tide and MUCH STRONGER THAN NORMAL RIP CURRENTS.
The NSRI urge recreational boaters, sailors, paddlers, bathers, fishermen, children, seafarers and anglers to exercise caution around coastal waters, inland waters and swimming pools at all times and especially during this festive season.
Do not drink alcohol and then go for a swim, drive a boat, paddle a paddle craft, surf, go angling from rocks close to shore, sail a sail craft or jump off rocks or from high places into any water.
Every year accidents occur around waterways, inland and coastal, and a safety conscious approach to water will contribute to your families safety this summer.
Launching your craft in fine weather could see you fighting through a major storm only hours later and we urge anyone making use of the sea and on inland waters to check out weather forecasts before launching and to take all the necessary safety precautions into account in order to be prepared for the worst if weather conditions change suddenly or if you land up, unexpectedly, in a dire emergency situation.
Prepare yourself and your crew for an emergency. Don't try to handle an emergency situation for the first time in a real emergency!
Anyone launching any kind of craft to go to sea or on inland waters should keep safety top of mind :
-Always let a responsible person know your time of departure, the route you plan to travel and your estimated return time and stick to your route and plans. Make sure the responsible person has an action plan well versed to contact the NSRI if you do not return as scheduled.
-Check that your craft and equipment are in good working order and carry the correct safety approvals and certifications. Make sure your craft has your name and a land based contact number and your details stenciled on the craft
-Have your nearest NSRI emergency phone number stored in your phone. You can obtain your nearest NSRI emergency phone number here.
Other vital national emergency numbers (that can also be used in conjunction with your 'nearest sea rescue emergency number' to report sea rescue emergencies are 10177 (from any phone) and in the Kwa-Zulu Natal area 10111 (from any phone).
-Plan for an emergency before launching onto water so that if you land up in a life threatening situation the steps you take to ensure your survival are well rehearsed.
-Life-Jackets are the safety belts when you are on water and should be worn at all times. Children should have properly fitting life-jackets.
-Have your communications devices, a cell-phone or VHF radio, with fully charged batteries stored in watertight plastic sleeves.
-Carry red distress flares, a signaling mirror or CD disc, a referees whistle, a waterproof torch and wear the correct brightly colored gear and a hat and sunscreen and keep yourselves well hydrated.
Safety and ensuring your survival when the odds, or the weather, unexpectedly turn against you begins before you leave home. We have gone so far as to recommending to boaters and paddlers to practice safety and emergency techniques by jumping into a swimming pool with all your gear to practice using your safety safety equipment (practice in a safe environment) as it is no good trying to familiarize yourself with your safety equipment for the first time in a real emergency.
Anglers fishing along the coastline are urged to wear Life-Jackets while fishing close to the shores edge. Be acutely aware of the high and low tides, never turn your back to the sea and take extra precautions during the twice monthly Spring Tides.
Children should have responsible adult supervision around any water at all times especially at swimming pools. Statistics released by the Medical Research Council show the greatest number of drowning accidents occur amongst children aged between 5 and 14 in swimming pools, rivers, lakes and dams. Always have someone responsible watching over your children while they are swimming.
Swimming Pools should be surrounded by a cloak of safety. Nets over a swimming pool and fences and gates should be well maintained and securely placed at all times. Children should not be left alone around swimming pools.
Rip-Currents are the greatest cause of drowning accidents along the coast. A rip-current is a river of water flowing fast out to sea against the incoming waves and can occur at different places along the coastline regularly throughout the day.
Rip Currents are a naturally forming channel, or river, of water heading out to sea against the incoming currents. As waves push water onto the shore the water has to find a way of heading back out to sea. This is done by rip currents.
Anyone caught in a rip-current will realize that they are being swept out to sea faster than what they can swim towards shore. If you are caught in a rip-current:
-Do not panic and do not try to swim against the current. As hard as it sounds let the current take you out to sea.
-Tread water by moving your arms and legs in circular movements to stay afloat and keep your lungs filled with air to aid in your buoyancy.
-Raise one arm in the air and wave for help to alert people on the shore that you are in trouble.
-The rip-current force dissipates the further out to sea it gets so at your first opportunity swim parallel to the shore front until you are free of the rip and then use the incoming waves to aid your progress to get back to shore.
During Spring Tide, which happens twice a month every month of the year at full moon and again at new moon, rip currents are at their strongest for a few days leading up to Spring Tide, peaking on the day of Spring Tide (on the day of the full or the new moon), and lasting for a few days after the day of full moon or new moon.
Spring Tides cause a higher than normal high tide and a lower than normal low tide and hence they cause much stronger than normal rip-currents (compared to other times of the month).
Spring Tide rip-currents can be so strong that they are known to sometimes sweep people off their feet in ankle deep water and sweep people rapidly out to sea.
Extreme caution should be exercised during the Spring Tides.
Bathers at beaches should swim only when and where lifeguards are on duty and swim within the safe demarcated swimming zones are posted by lifeguards at the beach using their red and yellow flags. Lifeguards at beaches change the safe demarcated swimming zones regularly throughout the day (depending where they detect the strongest rip currents to be) and ask bathers to move to bathe in the new placed channel. The public should obey the lifeguards instructions.
Swimming at rivers, lakes and dams can be dangerous as swirling water and rapidly flowing rivers can cause a bather to be sucked under water while swimming, or swept rapidly down stream and into possible danger, hence inland water bathers should be cautious at all times.
Everyone living along the coast or anyone visiting the coast and all sea users should find out what their nearest NSRI emergency telephone number is. The NSRI have sea rescue stations along the coast around South Africa and also have rescue stations at the Vaal Dam, the Hartbeespoort Dam and at Victoria Lake (in Germiston).
To find out what your nearest sea rescue emergency number is click here.
Another very important emergency phone number to store in your phone is 10177 (dial from any phone). 10177 is the National emergency medical and rescue services contact number and should only be used to report an emergency.
10177 can also be used (in conjunction with your nearest sea rescue emergency number) to report a sea rescue emergency but in the Kwa-Zulu Natal area an additional sea rescue emergency number is the Police's 10111.
NSRI volunteers are on-duty 24 hours a day every day of the year.
NSRI wish all South Africans and visitors from abroad a safe festive season.
Between 22nd December, 2012 and 04th January, 2013 Media are requested to please contact Meriel Bartlett - 0829947555 or Andrew Ingram - 0829905977 for media enquiries.
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