Water safety drive for BCM beachgoers

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In an effort to address the number of drownings that happen on our shores every festive season, Buffalo City Aquatics (BCA), together with the EL Life Saving Club and Swim SA, have endeavoured to give beachgoers a Water Safety and Ocean Splash Drive on Saturday.
From learning how to behave in the water in a safe manner to trying their hand at boogie- boarding and beach volleyball, beachgoers will be exposed to the dangers as well as all the excitement a day at the beach entails.
“Drowning is one of the main causes of unnatural death in underprivileged communities, yet every year people flock to our oceans, dams, rivers and swimming pools regardless of whether they are “water safe” or not,” said Buffalo City Aquatics vice-president, Chantal Pillay.
“Every year we hear of people who drown at our beaches. Last New Year’s Eve my sons, who are qualified lifeguards, got to a scene too late where two little brothers drowned trying to help each other – neither of whom could swim. We want to educate people about how to behave around big bodies of water and how to have fun at the beach in a safe way in order to curb incidences like these.”
NSRI East London station commander, Geoff McGregor said by last weekend there had already been seven drownings in East London since the beginning of December this year.
Organised by Buffalo City Aquatics, the water safety event will see two teams of local lifeguards, swimmers and swimming coaches visit two of the city’s popular beaches, Eastern Beach and Nahoon Beach, and all are welcome to join in.
“We will have talks, games and displays for young and old, educating them about water safety and will also have some of the swim schools that are affiliated to BCA who will hand out cards and contact details for those interested in learning to swim,” explained Pillay.
“The lifeguards will do mini life-saving demonstrations, show people how to treat minor injuries and how to alert lifeguards when someone is in trouble. They will also do basic CPR demonstrations,” she said.
EL Lifesaving club chairman, David Mandell said that the lifesaving club, which operates predominantly at Nahoon Beach, was happy to be part of the event and that their main goal was to play an integral part in ensuring people’s safety near water.
“We want to teach people to understand the ocean and things like having to swim between the flags and what a rip current is and what to do if you get caught in one. More often than not people panic in the water and that’s what causes them to lose their footing and drown. We’re also going to teach basic distress signals to attract a lifeguard’s attention for assistance,” said Mandell.
He added that alcohol was one of the biggest problems and factors that led to drowning.
“People get silly and swim where they are not supposed to or when there are no lifeguards on duty and parents often don’t supervise their kids,” he said.
National Swimming Association, Swim SA president Alan Fritz will also be in attendance on the day and said that the day would be all about creating awareness and teaching children and parents about the importance and value of learning how to swim and being safe.
Pillay said that the event started on a small scale in December 2017 with the goal of making it an annual event.
“Eventually, we hope to form partnerships with some of our local companies as well as the municipality so we can run this water safety drive as a Water Safety Awareness festival,” she said.
Both water safety events at Eastern Beach and Nahoon Beach will start at 9am on Saturday...

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