Front of mind going into this summer is the seasonal nature of drowning: as the weather warms up, people immerse themselves in a body of water somewhere and some never return. If we can prevent injury or death from drowning, we will all enjoy a great summer.
So, what are the very practical things we can do this summer to keep us safe?
Children should always be supervised, even more so near water. In summer school holidays our kids are out there somewhere – are they being looked after? Ask your employees who’s looking after their small children. Maybe you can create a holiday creche to keep them safe! Does your pool have a fence or net? These are all very important questions you should ask in order to be proactive about preventing a ‘worst nightmare’ this season.
Alcohol and water don’t mix, as illustrated by the high percentage of people who drown who have blood-alcohol levels over the legal limit. Don’t drink around water and, if you have a party or braai at home, particularly with children present, make sure your pool is covered. It goes without saying that if you take a watercraft out on a river, lake, dam or the sea, you should not have been drinking. Farmers should be particularly mindful of employees who may get into trouble in dams and rivers.
For those who enjoy work or recreation on the water there are a few key things that will keep you alive. Your boat (vessel) must float, in other words it must contain material that keeps it buoyant in a capsized state. You must wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when you are on the water – the best lifejacket is the one you wear. The last thing is that you must be able to communicate in an emergency. My advice would be to carry a cellphone, preferable with our SafeTRX application loaded, in a silicone waterproof pouch. These three safety measures will save your life.
Beachgoers need to adhere to some simple rules. Swim at lifeguarded beaches and between the flags, be aware of rip currents and never swim near a rip. If you don’t know, don’t go (rather be safe than sorry; swim in a tidal pool). Never dive into shallow, murky water (fresh water or the sea) and keep your head up when body surfing to prevent a neck injury.
To me, swimming is a life skill that should be taught at school. Teach your children to swim.
For any trip to the water, take a leaf out of our WaterWise book: plan your trip, look at the conditions to make sure they’re safe, ask locals if you’re not sure, never drink alcohol and swim, and never rush in where you know you could get into trouble.
Have a great summer and let’s do it safely.
DR CLEEVE ROBERTSON, CEO