Beware beach dangers, holidaymakers told
Sharks and riptides top council’s summer ‘watch-out’ list as bumper crowds are expected
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