Drowning Prevention collaboration pilot project at Port Edward
Drowning is a major cause of death in South Africa. We estimated that the number of children who drown each year would fit into 9 double decker buses.To address this problem a two prong approach to water safety is being adopted. We believe that pro-active education initiatives for beach goers and closer collaboration between emergency services will make a major impact on the terrible drowning statistics.A Drowning Prevention pilot project has launched in Port Edward on the KZN South Coast which sees Sea Rescue volunteers teaming up with Tower 13 Lifeguards in a project which has the backing of the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality and the Port Edward Rate Payers Association.NSRI CEO, Dr Cleeve Robertson says: “Port Edward was chosen as it is on the border of the Eastern Cape and KZN. Both provinces have unacceptably high drowning statistics and we feel that this proactive educational lifeguarding that is targeted at the local community will help to combat this.” “We are confident that teaching people about beach safety before they reach the water will reduce drowning incidents,” said Dr Robertson.Sea Rescue coxswain, Ruahn Beattie, has spent the last days of the 2016 school year teaching local school children about water safety with a specific focus on the Port Edward beach area and rip currents.Over the last month the Tower 13 lifeguards and Sea Rescue volunteers have been training together to make sure that their response to any situation is fast and efficient.“Together we can have a far greater impact than we can alone,” said Port Edward Station Commander John Nicholas. “Sea Rescue’s WaterWise Academy teaches school children in classrooms about beach safety, and focusing on the unique conditions at their local beach makes a real difference.”“When visitors arrive at the beach our rescue crew and the lifeguards talk to as many people as possible, teaching them about the rip currents and explaining the reason that they should swim between the lifeguard flags,” said John.Tower 13 manager Sheldon Roux said, ”We will be assisting the public by teaching them about beach safety and we will remind them that drinking alcohol before swimming is extremely dangerous.”Educational emergency signage, which includes rip current warnings, will be erected at the beach in the next few days, to make sure that everyone visiting the beach will know to swim between the lifeguard flags and who to call in an emergency.
On duty: Tower 13 Lifeguards Siyabonga Nxontsaand Lusanda Mathumbu, with Sea Rescue’s Ruahn Beattie and Robin Nel and Sfiso Bright Diya (far right) of Tower 13 will be focusing on education and prevention as well as response to people in difficulty using the NSRI Port Edward Discovery Rescue Runner 6. Picture by Avril Scholtz / NSRITO REPORT A SEA RESCUE EMERGENCY DIAL 112 FROM A CELLPHONE