Be­ware beach dangers, hol­i­day­mak­ers told

Sharks and rip­tides top coun­cil’s sum­mer ‘watch-out’ list as bumper crowds are ex­pected

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - STEFNI HER­BERT

AS HUGE crowds swarm to the beaches the City of Cape Town and the Na­tional Sea Res­cue In­sti­tute have urged peo­ple to take pre­cau­tions when swim­ming.

The City of Cape Town re­cently launched its Sum­mer Readi­ness Plan which fo­cuses on safety around beaches and swim­ming pools.

The city has re­newed its con­tract with Life­sav­ing West- ern Prov­ince for the hol­i­days. Last sea­son the or­gan­i­sa­tion had its work cut out with be­tween 13 000 and 16 000 peo­ple head­ing to beaches ev­ery day of De­cem­ber and Jan­uary.

The city is in charge of 72 beaches, from Sil­w­er­stroom near Melk­bos to Ko­gel Bay in False Bay.

A to­tal of 250 life­guards will be de­ployed at var­i­ous beaches be­tween 10am and 6pm daily un­til mid-Jan­uary, when the schools go back.

The city has is­sued guide­lines for beach-go­ers.

Al­co­hol is not al­lowed on beaches and any­one caught with al­co­hol or un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol on a beach will be pros­e­cuted.

A green flag means a shark spot­ter is on duty, vis­i­bil­ity is good and there are no sharks in the area. A red flag means a shark has been spot­ted in the past two hours. A black flag means a shark spot­ter is on duty, but vis­i­bil­ity is poor. A white flag with the im­age of a shark means a shark is in the area; a siren will be sounded to clear the area and swim­mers should stay out of the wa­ter un­til the flag has been low­ered.

Shark spot­ters are on duty above Muizen­berg Corner, Fish Hoek, St James, Kalk Bay, and The Hoek (No­ord­hoek) through­out the year. Shark spot­ters will be de­ployed at Glen­cairn and Clovelly beaches on long week­ends, Easter and these hol­i­days.

Swim in groups and tell friends where you in­tend swim­ming.

Make sure other peo­ple can see you.

Don’t swim near seals, whales or dol­phins, or near where a car­cass may have washed up.

Par­ents must watch their chil­dren at all times.

Dis­abled peo­ple will be able to use spe­cial beach wheel­chairs pro­vided by the city at 10 beaches un­til March 31.

The NSRI has been given a limited spon­sor­ship of an in­shore surf res­cue heli­copter from Wed­nes­day un­til Jan­uary 5. It will be crewed by res­cue pi­lots, an ER24 para­medic, NSRI and SA Life­sav­ing res­cue swim­mers. A sec­ond heli­copter will op­er­ate along the south­ern Cape coast.

The NSRI has also warned swim­mers about rip­tides and says, if caught in a rip­tide, this is what you should do:

Don’t panic. Stay afloat by kick­ing your legs and mov­ing your arms in cir­cu­lar move­ments.

Don’t swim against the rip cur­rent.

Wave an arm and shout for help.

As you drift fur­ther out to sea, the rip will lose its strength. Swim par­al­lel to the shore at the first op­por­tu­nity you get.

Once free of the rip cur­rent, swim back to shore us­ing in­com­ing waves to as­sist you.

Beach­go­ers should pro­gramme the sea res­cue emer­gency num­bers into phones. Cape Town: 021 449 3500; Mos­sel Bay: 044 604 6271; Sal­danha Bay: 022 714 1726.

Other im­por­tant num­bers are:

Emer­gency Med­i­cal and Res­cue Ser­vices – 10177 Fly­ing Squad – 10111 From a cell­phone – all emer­gen­cies – 112

From a lan­d­line – all

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