Drowning prevention is a complete package. To prevent a person from drowning, education is king. If people understood that to be safe at the beach they should choose to swim on a lifeguarded beach, while lifeguards are on duty and between their flags, most drowning incidents would never happen.
Education is closely followed by prevention… in the form of effective signage, emergency telephone numbers and proactive lifeguarding. Last comes rescue. Rescuing a person who is drowning takes speed and teamwork.
Rescue responses need to be very fast and well co-ordinated. To get accurate information as fast as possible, our Plettenberg Bay Sea Rescue volunteers have designed a numbered signage system that corresponds with an online map. With generous sponsorship from the British Foreign Office these signs are dotted all along their operational area.
Each sign or map point has a list of critical information digitally attached to it, for example: GPS co-ordinates, closest associated service, directions to get there, gate keys or codes, list of nearby medical and rescue supplies, coast watchers, safety-related information and so on. All of this, to shave off a few seconds when responding to a person whose life is threatened by rip currents in what may be one of the most popular beach destinations in South Africa.