Water Safety cape town lifeguards
Photo Credit: On File

Summer holidays are around the corner, so the NSRI is sharing all their water safety tips to keep people safe in South African waters.


South Africa (14 December 2020) – NSRI, as always, are prepared for the vacation season, and this year they are planning for bustling beaches and inland waterways.

With close to 1500 NSRI volunteers stationed at 43 coastal and inland NSRI rescue stations, on duty 24 hours a day, they are ready to respond to emergencies. Still, they are appealing to the public to have a safety-conscious mindset in and around water.

Always be prepared for an emergency and have the NSRI emergency number 112 and 0870949774 programmed into your phone.

NSRI, lifeguards and the emergency rescue services are appealing to the public to stay safe this festive season.

“NSRI wishes everyone a safe summer and we urge the public to adopt a water safety mindset around coastal and inland waters.

Our rule number one, for a safe experience at the beach, is to choose a beach that has lifeguards on duty and to swim between their flags.

If you do that, you don’t need to worry about rip currents, or suddenly getting out of your depth. Putting an arm in the air and waving for help will get a rapid response from the lifeguards on duty.”

Have a plan in place in the event of an emergency to prevent panic:

  • Make sure you have emergency numbers that you may need, saved in your cell phone. Dial 112 from any cell phone in an emergency. Or simply Google Sea Rescue or NSRI for the closest Sea Rescue station’s telephone number.
  • Check the wind, weather and tides before going to the beach, fishing or boating.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you are due back, and make sure that they know your route, your intentions and who to call if you are overdue.
  • When climbing on rocks or fishing from rocks – never turn your back on the sea, and we strongly advise rock anglers to wear a lifejacket and know when spring high tide is.
  • If you are paddling or if you are on a boat, before you launch, download and always use NSRI’s free SafeTrx app – http://www.nsri.org.za/safetrx

Here are some water safety tips to bear in mind this summer:

1.   Swim at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty.

Lifeguards are on duty at selected beaches between 10 am and 6 pm on weekends and during the week during summer school holidays. Listen to their advice and talk to them about safety on the beach that you are visiting. They are the experts on that beach. If lifeguards are not on duty, do not swim.

2.   Swim between the lifeguard flags.

Teach children that if they swim between the lifeguard’s flags, the lifeguards will be watching them and can help if there is a problem. Lifeguards observe swimmers between the flags – wave an arm if you need help.

3.   Don’t drink alcohol and then swim.

4.   Don’t swim alone. Always swim with a buddy.

If you are with a buddy while swimming, there is someone who can call for help if you need it and you can’t wave to the lifeguards or call for help yourself.

5.   Adult supervision and water barriers are vital.

Adults who are supervising children in or near water must be able to swim. This is vital if it is at a water body that does not have lifeguards on duty. It is extremely dangerous to get into the water to rescue someone so rather throw something that floats to the person in difficulty and call for help (112 from a cell phone and check for the nearest Sea Rescue station telephone number before you visit a beach – put that number into your cell phone). Children should not be able to get through or over barriers such as pool fences to water. Only use child-safe pool fences and child-safe pool covers or nets.

6.   Know how to survive rip currents.

If you swim between the lifeguard flags, they will make sure that you are safe and well away from rip currents. If for some reason this is not possible, do not swim. Educate yourself about rip currents; there is plenty of educational material here http://www.nsri.org.za/2017/01/beware-of-rip-currents/, including videos of what rip currents look like.

7.   Don’t attempt a rescue yourself.

Call a lifeguard or the NSRI by dialling 112 and call the NSRI Emergency Operations Centre 0870949774 from your cell phone for help. If you see someone in difficulty, call a lifeguard at once or dial the nearest Sea Rescue station from your cell phone. You should put this number into your phone before you go to the beach – get the emergency numbers for NSRI here http://www.nsri.org.za/emergency-numbers/ or you can Google for the closest NSRI station emergency number. 112 is a good emergency number – for any emergency – to dial from your cell phone. After calling for help try and throw something that floats to the person in difficulty—a ball, a foam surfboard and so on.

8.   Watch children who are using floating objects, toys or tire tubes at the beach or on dams very carefully. Never use these if the wind may blow them away from the shallow water.

You can very quickly get blown away from the shore, and as much fun as tubes and Styrofoam are it is easy to fall off them. If a child can’t swim and falls off in deep water, they will drown.

9.   Drowning is silent.

Watch children when they are in or near water. Do not be distracted by your cell phone or social media while you are looking after children in or near water you need to focus on them and nothing else. Adults who are supervising children should not be distracted or use their cell phone. It is not possible to concentrate on children in the water and be on your phone at the same time.

10.   Learn how to do CPR. Have the emergency numbers saved in your phone.

NSRI are appealing to everyone launching any kind of craft onto water, coastal and inland, to download and use the NSRI RSA SafeTrx free cellphone app, have responsible family members monitor your trip using SafeTrx and carry safety equipment.

Sources: NSRI – Press Release
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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