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At the beginning of 2020, Hillside Aluminium/South32 generously sponsored 40 lifesaving Pink Rescue Buoys for Richards Bay and surrounds. These buoys have been erected in strategic areas along the bay. Hundreds of drownings in South Africa each year are preventable, if only proper education, prevention initiatives and the right equipment were at hand.

With an increase in drownings reported in the Richards Bay area over the last few years, it is our hope that the installation of these lifesaving buoys will save lives in the bay this summer season and for years to come. The success of the Pink Rescue Buoy project however depends on the community. Without communities standing behind the project and teaching children that the Pink Rescue Buoys should not be taken off their poles except in an emergency, we will not be able to save lives. In some areas, Pink Rescue Buoys which were thought to have been stolen have been returned to their poles within days of the community leadership telling people that they must not take these emergency floats.

As our Pink Rescue Buoy sign says – ‘Please return me so that we can save another life’.“ Drowning prevention is a key pillar of our work, and our initiatives would not be possible without the generous support of donors and sponsors and the commitment of our educators and the communities that welcome them” said Andrew Ingram Head of Drowning Prevention. “We would like to thank Hillside Aluminium/South32 for their sponsorship of Pink Rescue Buoys and extending our water-safety education capacity in the Richards Bay area”, added Andrew. Calvin Mkhabela, Vice President of Operations at Hillside Aluminium/ South32, says, “The safety and security of communities is important to us. This initiative will go a long way in protecting beachgoers or those who live around water, especially children, who may find themselves in an emergency.” The Rescue Buoys are bright pink so that they can be easily spotted on the water by responding emergency services.

There is also a unique location number on the signpost so that crucial minutes can be saved for emergency services to help those in danger of drowning. Andrew added, “Our message to water users and anyone who may find themselves in danger of drowning is simple: “Think Pink”. If you ever see someone in danger of drowning, think: “pink is for buoys”. Find the pink rescue buoy, throw it into the water, help the person to float, save a life. You’ll find our buoys at beaches along the coast, inland dams and rivers right across South Africa. But please remember that a stolen buoy could be a stolen life ”Andrew also urged water users to immediately call 112 from their cell phone for help if someone is in danger of drowning.

In addition to the rescue buoys, Hillside Aluminium/South32’s sponsorship included the funding of two new water safety instructors in the Richards Bay area. Mncedisi Hlalatu and Phelelani Nene began their work in educating learners in the greater Richards Bay area about being safe in and around water in early February. The programme which was temporarily put on hold due to the Covid-19 crisis, includes teaching peer rescue, dangerous currents, planning for water safety and Hands-On CPR. These are all essential skills in reducing the high number of fatal drownings each year.

Instructor Phelenani Nene, a trained marine engineer, is based at Unizulu Science Centre in Alton in Richards Bay, where all learners who visit the centre receive a free age-appropriate water safety lesson as part of their visit. While schools are reluctant to let pupils go on excursions, some adapting has had to be done, and Phelenani now goes to the schools to give the water-safety classes.Instructor Mncedisi Hlalatu, a Sea Rescue volunteer at Station 19 (Richards Bay) and sailing instructor, concentrates on teaching at schools in the greater King Cetshwayo area where there are approximately 40 fatal drownings each year. Mncendisi is happy to be back in the classroom doing what he loves most, while observing strict Covid-19 protocols.Our sincere and grateful thanks to Hillside Aluminium/South32 for their generous sponsorship.

About the Pink Rescue Buoys:

The NSRI Pink Rescue Buoys which are placed at selected inland dams, rivers, and beaches along the coastline where there is a danger of people drowning or needing rescue have already saved countless lives on South African Waters. The roll-out of the NSRI Pink Rescue Buoys started in November 2017. This project is made possible by corporate and public donations and is part of an extensive National Drowning Prevention Campaign started by Sea Rescue during 2017. The deployment of the Pink Rescue buoys is done with the cooperation of City Councils, Municipalities and communities in a rapidly growing effort to make our waters safer and to prevent drowning incidents. Part of the initiative follows the World Health Organisation’s principals of empowering community members with peer rescue and CPR skills. When we put Pink Rescue Buoys up in an area, we also target this education at the communities through traditional and social media channels. Over 750 Pink Rescue Buoys have been installed around South Africa and over 60 lives saved since Nov 2017.

Media Queries: Contact: Jessica Shelver

Email: jessica@searescue.org.za | Cell: 076 175 0663

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