Between 1 December 2016 and 2 January 2017, NSRI responded to 132 operations in which 193 people were rescued and 10 animals were assisted. In 38 of these operations, we responded to boats and ships calling for assistance and we evacuated 3 patients for medical reasons from ships. In this period we responded to 37 fatal drownings (23 adults and 14 children) and we extend our sincere condolences to their families and loved ones.
While the majority of the drownings are attributed to drownings in the sea due to rip-currents, some fatalities were from suspected medical causes and others were fatal drowning accidents in fresh water (lagoons, swimming pools, rivers, lakes and dams) or accidents around water.
NSRI believe that the total number of fatal drowning accidents has increased from the same period last year. We suspect that this may be due to an increase in the number of people visiting beaches and inland waters this holiday season.
NSRI have committed ourselves to drowning prevention though our:
- ongoing media campaign and public education
- our WaterWise Academy which has
- reached more than one million children around the country
- and which has also seen the Western Cape Department of Education including this program into their school curriculum,
- the introduction of rescue noodles to some beaches in a pilot project,
- and in an intense collaboration with other services – the SA Police Services, SA Lifesaving, Provincial Government Health EMS, Private ambulance services, Municipalities and their Municipal lifeguards and Municipal Law Enforcement agencies, Fire Departments and local lifesaving agencies, the SA National Parks and other Community Services.
NSRI urges bathers to only visit beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty.
We encourage the public not to drink alcohol around water and we urge parents to make sure that children have responsible adult supervision around water (coastal and inland waters) and that your swimming pool at home has a cloak of safety around it.
As we approach the Full Moon Spring Tide which peaks on the 12th of January we will again be sending out warnings of the increased risks from stronger rip currents from the 8th of January onwards. On our website at www.searescue.org.za we regularly post advice on rip currents, Spring Tides, water safety advice and we encourage paddlers and boaters to download the RSA Safetrx free app to their cellphones and to carry safety equipment.
NSRI was established in 1967 and this year celebrates 50 years of voluntary service, saving lives on South African waters.