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Enhancing people’s water safety skills to help reduce the risk of drowning is very crucial. Drowning prevention is very important because drowning can happen in any body of water. In South Africa inland locations significantly contribute to the country’s drownings statistics.

It is for that reason that the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI)’s water safety education, as well as survival swimming programmes, are some of the initiatives the organization has implemented across South Africa. Dr. Jill Fortuin, Executive Director of Drowning Prevention Services at the NSRI states that since the inception of the water safety programme in 2006 the organization has reached four (4) million people through this project. “We are delighted as the NSRI that organizations such as the South African Maritime Safety Authority​ (SAMSA) are collaborating with us to reach more people, specifically under 14’s through this programme,” she states.

The geographic focus area for this project will be the Gauteng Province because of the province’s high number of fatal drownings. “Johannesburg, Sebokeng, Germiston, and Pretoria are the four areas that have the highest incidence of drowning per annum,” adds Fortuin.

SAMSA is a public entity under the Department of Transport, mandated through law with responsibility for ensuring the safety of life and property at sea, prevention of pollution at sea by ships, and the promotion of South Africa’s maritime interest. It is also charged with implementation and enforcement of the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations, 2007 that is aimed at promoting boating safety across the country including inland waters.

Ms Mapitso Dlepu, acting head of SAMSA’s Centre for Corporate Affairs, and Head of SAMSA CSI adds that the purpose of this drowning prevention campaign is to create awareness and how appropriate behaviour is crucial in the prevention of drownings. “We have joined forces with the NSRI expertise in this area and we specifically chose to run the campaign in July because this year is the 10th anniversary of Madiba’s passing, thereby making it fit with the theme of The Legacy Lives on Through You”, says Dlepu.

The implementation of the NSRI and SAMSA collaboration will involve approximately 10 000 people focussing on learners who will be taught about water safety and where appropriate bystander rescue and resuscitation, in the Gauteng region. The intended outcome is that these persons should know what to do if they find themselves (or others) in danger in and around water.

“To kick start this project we have selected Glen Austin Primary School as the first beneficiary and this school has 200 children who range from Grade 1 to Grade 7. This is the critical age in which they need to be water safe as they are the most vulnerable,” Dr Jill adds.

In addition to this, in the summer season, survival swimming lessons will be taught to persons who are residing in the area in which the NSRI teaches survival swimming lessons in the Gauteng province.

Meanwhile, Dlepu states that SAMSA is glad to partner with the NSRI in the initiative “We are trying to reduce the drowning statistics in our country, and we are delighted in such partnerships as we would like to also change lives for the better and create futures, one child at a time,” concludes Dlepu.

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Contact: Kuhle Mkize

Email: | Cell: 066 099 5777

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