Its a hot day. School holidays. Parents are at work and the kids in the area are playing together. The oldest child has been told sternly to look after the younger kids until the adults get home after work.
Late in the morning the children are tired of playing at home and nag the older boy to go down to the dam to cool off and swim. They are not allowed to do this. The farmer, who owns the dam, has put ‘NO SWIMMING’ boards up and swimming there is forbidden by the parents. It is a dangerous dam as the ground is uneven and there are a number of deep holes.
But its hot. And they are children.
Eventually the older child agrees, and down to the dam they go. The youngest kid pulls his clothes off and wades in. Suddenly his head disappears under the water. The older boy, remembering his mothers words rushes into the water to help, reaches out to the little boy, who grabs his hand … and pulls him into the deep water. Neither child can really swim, and in complete horror the third child watches as both heads disappear under the water.
When neither boy comes up he runs away. He has no idea what to do. So he hides.
When the parents return that evening, the boy, sobbing, tells what happened. Horrified the adults call the police. Emergency services soon arrive. But it is way too late to save the little boys.
Although this story is made up, in reality it plays itself out again and again. At the beach, at rivers, at dams. The best defence against it, and our terrible drowning statistics, is education. This is what Sea Rescue’s WaterWise Academy Instructors do.
Just before the December holidays the WaterWise Academy strategically placed several ‘Rescue Buoys’ as a test in the Ceres area. The idea of the buoys was to raise awareness of the dangers in water, reinforcing the water safety lesson that the children had been given in their classroom, and in the event of an emergency, to have a rescue devise at hand.
“After I have taught the older children about peer rescue, who to call for help and how to do Hands On CPR, the teacher chooses a few kids and we go to the dam that they swim in, to put a Rescue Buoy up,” says WaterWise Instructor Eoudia Erasmus.
“The buoy reminds the children of the danger that they face when swimming and if someone gets into difficulty they can use it.”
At the start of the 2015 first term Howard Godfrey and Rob Stirrat, both of whom have been involved in Sea Rescue since the 1970’s, went out to Ceres to see how the project was going. Both men have been at the forefront of rescue and sourcing new technology for Sea Rescue in the form of boats and rescue equipment over the past 20 years.
They smiled at the thought that a 3 litre milk container, used in the context of a farm dam, can be a very effective lifesaving devise. Chatting about the project afterwards it was agreed that getting the farmer, the children, the school and the community to buy in to the project is the key to its success.
And now we need you to get involved, we need your help to place these easy to make Rescue Buoys around the country. And help to prevent children from drowning.
You can make a Rescue Buoy, you can encourage your children to make them and to put them in places that children swim. And you can encourage the school in your area to do the same.
Here is how
- Wash out a 3 litre milk container and allow it to dry properly.
- Use an oil based red paint (spray paint is good) and paint the inside of the bottle generously. Swish the paint around so that the entire inside surface is covered and allow it to dry.
- Put a handful of sand in the bottle to give it some weight so that it can be thrown and then glue the lid on with a silicone glue.
- Tie a 10 metre rope to the bottle handle and coil it neatly. Use an old shoelace - or any other piece of rope / string and tie it in a loop. This will hold the coiled rope and secure it to the top of the pole.
- Cut a groove in the top of the pole ( slip the shoelace through this).
- Drill a hole about 10 cm from the top of the pole to thread the rope through. Tie a simple overhand knot to keep the rope attached to the pole.
- Make a label with “ EMERGENCY NUMBER 10177” plastic sandwich it ( or put it in a plastic sleeve) and use a drawing pin to put it on the pole. You can download our label from the sea rescue website - type ‘Rescue Buoy’ in the search field to find it.
- Paint the pole a bright colour if you have any paint over and put it up, with the permission of the land owner, at the dam or river where children play.
You can download the Rescue Buoy label here.