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We’ve compiled a list of important safety tips for all water users to bear in mind, not just for the holiday season, but also for every time you’re planning a day at the beach or going out on the water to enjoy some time paddling, sailboarding, fishing or boating.


Swim at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty

Lifeguards are only on duty at selected beaches. The times that they are on duty vary from beach to beach so it’s important to find out local information pertaining to when they will be on duty. Listen to the lifeguards’ advice and talk to them about safety on the beach that you are visiting. If lifeguards are not on duty, do not swim. And don’t ever be tempted to swim on an unfamiliar or deserted beach while on a road trip.

Swim between the lifeguard flags

If you swim between the lifeguard flags, the lifeguards will be watching you very carefully and can help if there is a problem. Just wave your arm if you need help. Share this information with your grown children but never leave minors unsupervised.

Don’t drink alcohol and then swim

Being physically impaired in water is very dangerous, as you’ll be more inclined to take risks you normally wouldn’t; you could pass out or injure yourself and drown.

Don’t swim alone. Always swim with a buddy

If you are with a buddy while swimming, there is someone who can call for help if you need it and are unable to wave to the lifeguards or call for help yourself.

Avoid attempting a rescue yourself

If you see someone in difficulty, call a lifeguard at once or dial the nearest NSRI station (click here to find and save the number in your phone) or 112 from your cellphone. After calling for help, try and throw something that floats to the person in difficulty. If there is a Pink Rescue Buoy in close proximity, this can be used as flotation until help arrives. If you do ever attempt a bystander rescue, do so only if you can swim AND are able to take flotation with you. Tell someone on the beach to call 112 before you go in.

Beware of inflatable tubes, boats and toys

Lightweight inflatables should not be used at the beach or on dams where currents and wind can blow them – and the person on them – offshore. They are extremely dangerous, and should only be used where intended i.e. a swimming pool, and only under adult supervision.

Do not be distracted by your cellphone or social media

While you are looking after children in or near water, you need to focus on them and nothing else. Adults who are supervising children should not be distracted or use their cellphone. It is not possible to concentrate on children in the water and be on your phone at the same time. Remember – drowning is silent.

Adult supervision and barriers to water are vital

Adults who are supervising children in or near water must be able to swim. Children should not be able to get through or over barriers such as pool fences to water. Only use child-safe pool fences and child-safe pool covers or nets.

Dial 112 in the event of an emergency.


Tell someone where you are going and when you are due back, and make sure that they know your route, your intentions and who to call if you are overdue

WHY? Any delay in calling for help could have fatal results. The NSRI should be contacted if the person expected home is late and is unreachable.

Stencil your name and cellphone number on your vessel as well as the name and number of your next of kin

WHY? If a kayak or kitesurf is found washed up onshore, with no person near it, the number can be called to establish if the user is safe. If the user cannot be reached, the next of kin can be phoned for more information.

Wear bright colours and something reflective on your person

WHY? It will be easier for rescuers to see you if they are searching for you at night.

Make sure your phone is fully charged and you have SafeTrx downloaded and activated

WHY? SafeTrx takes the ‘search’ out of search and rescue. It’s much easier for the NSRI to locate you. Alerts are received by the NSRI’s Emergency Operations Centre and the trained team will be able to effect a search immediately. Find the SafeTrx app here.

Keep your cellphone in a waterproof pouch around your neck or securely stored in your lifejacket

WHY? In case you become separated from your vessel, your phone will still be with you.

Keep a referee whistle with you

WHY? Rescuers will tell you that, without an accurate location, it can be difficult to locate casualties in heavy swells and over the noise of wind and water. Casualties may hear or see rescuers and the referee whistle is a brilliant way to draw attention to where you are.

Take a set of pencil distress flares with you

WHY? These flares can be used to help locate you. Use the first flare when you realise you need help. Wait five minutes, then set off the second flare. Wait half an hour, then set off number 3. Hold on to the remainder until it gets dark. Set off number 4, then save the fifth for when you see a vessel approaching. Other useful safety equipment includes a signalling mirror and a fully charged torch.

Wear bright lumo clothing

WHY? Being bright makes you more visible in the ocean.


  • When climbing on rocks or fishing from rocks – never ever turn your back on the sea and we strongly advise rock anglers to wear a lifejacket and know when the tide is coming in and when spring high tide is.
  • Check the wind, weather and tides before setting out on your excursion.
  • Ensure your craft is sea/water worthy and fit for the purpose you’re using it for.
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