At this time of year, everyone is preparing for the summer holiday season.
Most drownings occur through ignorance. The highest incidence of drownings are visitors from out of town, who are not familiar with the area.
Sea Rescue hopes to use any and every opportunity to alert people and educate them on water safety; so that they understand the dangers, know what to do in an emergency and know who/how to call for help.
We have a number of proven avenues to achieve these aims, and we rely on partners and communities to share opportunities and costs.
The best signboards are big, bold and uncluttered.
They may only be put up with signed municipal consent.
We ensure that they are well designed to cope with the harsh elements (weather and vandals) and low maintenance. Double sided – so that you can read them from beachside and roadside.
Apparently many men over 40 struggle to read red – best is navy blue on white or yellow, or white text on navy blue.
Emergency number must be big and bold (112 is ideal as one option because it is short and easy to dial, we then add the local Sea Rescue number which would mean the quickest response).
We credit our sponsors in a strip along the bottom.
Roadside billboards are an ideal spot for a short, sharp safety message. High visibility.
KEYRINGS (FRIDGE MAGNETS ALSO WORK)
We find that low cost, small plastic keyrings with the Sea Rescue emergency numbers are useful. Visitors will have them at hand. They are ideal for self catering/backpackers or bed & breakfast establishments who give keys to guests. Affordable, long lasting and functional.
We partner with the local vendor that rents out deck chairs and umbrellas, we ask them to add the Sea Rescue emergency number on each umbrella and chair for high visibility.
We partner with the ice cream vendors, we demonstrate very basic CPR and first aid. Teach them how to take a bearing of a person in the water. Stick the Sea Rescue emergency number on their ice cream trolleys. Train them up to be first responders.
Companies that rent out kayaks, canoes, paddle skis, paddle boats should number each craft and each paddle. Write the phone number of the company on the craft and paddle, so if we find it abandoned we can quickly check whether someone is missing. Add the Sea Rescue Emergency number so that if the paddler needs help – they can call us.
INCLUDE THE COMMUNITY
We invite the beachfront stores/ restaurant owners to an open day at the local Sea Rescue base. Offer a quick and easy info session – demonstrate very basic CPR/first aid (informative and brief). Give them our local Sea Rescue emergency number. Describe the local hot spots and typical rescue scenarios. Get them involved and make them feel like a vital link in the rescue chain.
We also include hikers and walking clubs (who use coastal paths) we arrange a talk at their local club – teach them to be our eyes on the ground.
We often visit retirement villages where we give talks. We encourage them to get involved as Sea Rescue Coastwatchers, if they have a view over the seas. We teach them to take bearings of boats or people in trouble.
We meet with tour guides and guesthouse owners, encourage them to learn CPR. Explain how they can get involved and how they can help. We build relationships.
We believe that alcohol and water activities are a lethal combination.
Our WaterWise Academy has taught 800 000 children to date around South Africa in underprivileged and rural schools. We have sponsorship opportunities where you can get involved.
We have a 30 minute lesson, using song and dance and we teach them peer rescue, what to do in an emergency, who to call for help and what to do while they wait for the ambulance.
If suitable and viable, we encourage communities to get in touch with the Shark Spotter group in Cape Town. Ask questions, consider a pilot programme. Learn from them, rather than reinvent the wheel. Job creation and a big plus for tourism.
Immediate care helps to save lives. This past year we have had good outcomes from bite incidents thanks to immediate care and the availability of shark kits on beaches.
WHEN CREATING A CAMPAIGN…
Keep it simple: – focus on a simple 5 point message, for example:
- Only swim where and when lifeguards are on duty
- Never swim alone. Be sure someone on the beach is watching you
- Save the emergency number 112 in your cell phone
- RIP currents are a danger along our coastline
- Learn CPR
Children should be able to recite the 5 points, repeat those same 5 points on the info brochure and signage and in your public talks. Repetition works. Be clear, concise and consistent.
Lets all do our bit to save lives.