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Annual plan launched to keep children safe

With thousands expected to descend on Strand Beach over the festive season days, child safety will again be at the top of the list for local safety partners.

Strand Neighbourhood Watch officially rolled out its annual December holiday plan on Sunday 16 December, focusing on child safety and ensuring children return home safely with their parents after a day at the beach.

Last year the initiative proved very successful, with 4 223 children tagged over the four-day period, of which 51 were successfully reunited with their parents. Even a lost dog was reunited with its rightful owner.

This year the initiative will again run over four days, including Wednesday 26 December and Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 January.

Similar to last year, the beach will be divided in different colour-coded sections each fitted with a gazebo of that colour.

Parents are encouraged to register their children at the gazebo nearest the area where they will be spending the day. Each child will be tagged with a wristband of the same colour as the gazebo where they were registered.

All tags (wristbands) are numbered and a register is kept with the number of the tag and the particulars of the parents or caregivers and children in the event of a child going missing.

“Thousands of day visitors from all over stream to the beach on these particular days,” explains Carl Gersbach, operations coordinator of Strand Neighbourhood Watch.

“Every year we are stuck with a few hundred lost children. In some cases, the parents are negligent due to intoxication and, in other cases, children drift away while playing on the sand or in the water. Sometimes the parents even leave for home without their children.”

This year the material of the tags have be upgraded to vinyl wristbands to better ensure it stays on the child’s arm.

“Each year we identify ways to improve our method of operation and try to implement the improvements to make the process of risk management on the beach and surrounding areas more manageable,” says Gersbach.

The gazebos will be up and manned by watch volunteers from 07:00 to 19:00 on the four high-alert days. Each station will be clearly marked and visible.

“The idea is to make it easier for children who wander off to go to the colour station of the armband that they get tagged with,” Gersbach. says. “The parents would also be able to find their children in the same manner.”

Anyone willing to volunteer their time to assist on these dates, are welcome to join watch members at any of the three stations.

Gersbach says a second voluntary watch team is set to patrol the evenings, when hundreds of beachgoers usually camp on the pavements on the beachfront and in side streets while waiting for taxis to take them home. This becomes a safety issue for residents as it provides an opportunity for luring criminals to commit petty crimes.

The watch also patrolled the beach on Saturday 15 December when the annual beach touch rugby tournament took place.

For more information on the December holiday plan, call Gersbach on 083 635 2114. The Strand Neighbourhood Watch emergency number is 081 570 3540.

V During the high-alert days, 16 volunteers will assist watch members on the beach in an effort to keep the beach clean.

Cinnamon Spar in collaboration with Voices for Wildlife Africa started a “Conservation through Education” initiative with the idea to form conservation clubs in local schools. One of its initiatives is to recruit volunteers, “Litter Patrollers”, to assist them in keeping Strand Beach clean and clear of plastic during the peak holiday season starting from December to January.

The volunteers will report areas where litter is thrown, help to pick up the litter and plastic, as well as provide beachgoers with biodegradable refuse bags to assist in limiting the amount of plastic and litter entering the ocean.

Through this initiative the convenience store hopes to educate people about the impact of litter and plastic pollution on the environment in an effort to encourage people to change their habits.

The project will be coordinated by Rowan Ferreira and Kenny Dambakurima along with Strand Neighbourhood Watch.

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