Safe swimming this summer

With the recent fatal drownings, and many South Africans preparing to head to their holiday destinations, the public is urged to exercise care while participating in any water sports.

People should remember that anyone, even those who can swim, is at risk of drowning.

Risk-taking and overconfidence in one’s swimming ability may play a significant role in water-related deaths.

Here are a few tips to remember:

Children

  • Never allow a child to swim without adult supervision. Never leave youngsters unsupervised near water bowls or bathtubs. A child can drown in approximately two centimetres of water.
  • Ensure that children wear life jackets if they cannot swim.
  • Keep swimming pools covered with an approved cover when not in use.

Safe swimming in open water:

  • Do not swim too far out into the ocean. After a while, one may become fatigued or be swept farther out owing to strong currents.
  • Wearing a life jacket is vital. Remember your life jacket when participating in water sports such as boating, tubing or rafting.
  • When at the beach, only swim in designated areas that are supervised by lifeguards.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Remember that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool.
  • Never dive or jump into unfamiliar or shallow water.

What to do if someone is drowning?

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  • If you see a person in difficulty, alert a lifeguard immediately. It is not advisable to attempt to savea drowning person if you are not trained in life-saving or you are not wearing or carrying a flotation devicve.
  • If you do rescue a drowning person, and are able to get them out of the water, initiate CPR if there is no pulse or visible breathing.
  • Do not stop CPR unless the victim starts to breathe on his/her own.
  • Summon an ambulance as soon as possible and tell the paramedics what you are doing so that they can respond with the correct level of care.
  • Do not put the drowned person into a car and drive to hospital. You may be involved in an accident, owing to to panic, or the victim may suffer brain damage as a result of lack of oxygen while en route to hospital.
  • In case of a near-drowning, seek medical attention as soon as possible and explain clearly to medical staff what has happened. There are instances where secondary drowning occurs. This is more common in children than in adults, and may be difficult to recognise. The person may seem to have recovered but may have water in the lungs.

ER24’s Emergency Contact Centre can be reached 24 hours a day on 084 124 for any medical emergency.

  AUTHOR
Staff Reporter

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