A long weekend, the full moon Spring tide, stormy weather and the South African Heritage Day celebrations combine to bring cautionary advice from Sea Rescue to sea users and inland water users:
NSRI urge sea users and inland water users to exercise extreme caution in and around water this long weekend.
Boaters and paddlers at sea and on inland waters, bathers at beaches and at dams, rivers, lakes and swimming pools and anglers fishing from the coastline and along the banks of flooded rivers, swollen dams and lakes are urged to exercise extreme caution over this long weekend.
Very rough sea conditions can be expected to last well into next week following the series of cold fronts converging over our coastline. This coupled with the full moon Spring tide will result in dangerous sea conditions along the entire coastline.
Spring tide happens twice during every month of the year at full moon and at new moon and lasts for a few days leading up to the full moon and the new moon, peaking on the day of the full moon and the new moon, and lasting for a few days after the full moon and the new moon. Spring tides affects every coastline bringing higher than normal high tides, lower than normal low tides and hence stronger than normal rip currents. There are two high tides and two low tides every day of the year.
Rip currents have two distinct patterns:
1. They form naturally at different places constantly throughout the day along the coastline causing a strong current of water to be swept out to sea against the incoming waves and
2. at some places, like at river mouths, piers, rocky outcrops, reefs and at islands, rip currents are a constant fixture. Rip currents are most severe during the twice monthly Spring tides. It is not uncommon for people wading in shallow surf to be swept off their feet and swept out to sea by rip currents, particularly during the Spring tide.
Anyone caught in a rip current should not panic and should simply make every effort to stay afloat while the rip current sweeps you out to sea. Do not fight against the current. Stay afloat by treading water – moving your arms and legs in circular movements. Wave an arm towards shore and scream for help to alert people on the shore that you are in trouble. At your first opportunity swim across the beach front, parallel to the coastline, until you are free of the rip current and then use the incoming waves to get back to shore.
Boaters and paddlers should wear their life-jackets at all times when on water, carry and be familiar with the use of safety equipment, let a responsible person know their departure time, their exact planned route and their return time, stick to your planned intentions, and have the Sea Rescue emergency phone number stored in your phones.
Bathers should go to beaches when and where lifeguards are on duty and swim within the demarcated safe swimming zones posted by the lifeguards on beaches.
Anglers should never turn their back on the sea while fishing from the shore and be aware of and stay well clear of the high water mark especially during the Spring tide.
Children should have responsible adult supervision around all water – swimming pools, the sea, rivers, dams, lakes and even pools of water collected from storm rain.
Alcohol should not be consumed when embarking on water activities.
Boaters and paddlers on capsized craft should make every effort to not try to swim to shore but rather to stay with the floatation of their capsized craft.
It is strongly advised that people witnessing someone in trouble in water that they do not try to rescue the victim themselves for fear that they may get into difficulty themselves. People who see someone in trouble in water should call the emergency services and stay on the scene so that you can pin point, to the arriving rescue teams, the exact location of the person or persons in difficulty. Do not try a rescue effort yourself unless you have already alerted the emergency services and then only if you are a very good and competent swimmer, have swimming aids, like flippers, and have floatation devices with you to aid in any rescue effort.
The NSRI also urge an extreme safety conscious approach around swimming pools and inland water ways.
Water activities require a safety conscious and responsible approach at all times.