NSRI urges public to only swim in areas where lifeguards are present

Children playing by the beach
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The National Sea Rescue Institute(NSRI) at Wilderness near George in the Southern Cape has urged the public to only swim in designated areas where lifeguards are on duty.

A Dutch national drowned there on Tuesday apparently trying to save two family members who were caught in rip currents.

In other incidents on Tuesday on the Garden Route, an 8-year-old girl drowned at Suiderkruis near Mossel Bay, and a man believed to be from Malawi drowned at Buffels Bay near Knysna.

NSRI Wilderness Station Commander, Robert van Helsdingen says, “Have a look at where the lifeguards are on duty. The lifeguards put up flags on the beaches and swim between those flags. The flags are not just there to make it easier for the lifeguards; the flags have been put in a position which indicates where there’s no rip current. So, it’s a safer place to swim. Often where the rip currents are it actually looks calm, but it’s not calm.  It’s better to swim where there’s a bit of breakers.”

The NSRI says beachgoers need to take safety more seriously.

In the George Municipal area, lifeguards are on duty from seven in the morning until seven in the evening every day until the 31st of January.

They are stationed at Victoria Bay, Herold’s Bay, Gwaing River Mouth, Wilderness Main, Steps, Leentjiesklip and Wilderness Lagoon. While they are trained to save swimmers in distress, they can only ensure their safety with the public’s co-operation.

Van Heldsingen says alcohol abuse and unsupervised children are also major problems.

“One of our biggest problems, especially at this time of the year is obviously alcohol. People coming to the beaches under the influence of alcohol and then trying to get into the water and that cause a lot of trouble. Not even in the sea, in wilderness we have the lagoon. We’ve already had a drowning there earlier this year. That’s in three, four foot of water. The kids come in there and they’re not supervised,” says Van Heldsingen.

The visitors say they feel safe with the number of lifeguards and law enforcement officials on duty.

“My day so far is nice, I enjoy it. It seems like they, the lifeguards, are where they need to be and it looks like they’re looking well after the children and everyone else,” says one beachgoer.

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