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Safety should go hand in hand with fun

With the summer holiday approaching and many South Africans preparing to head to their holiday destinations, ER24 urges everyone to take care while participating in any water sports.

People should remember that anyone, even those who can swim, are at risk of drown­ing. Risk-taking and overconfidence in swimming ability may play a significant role in water-related deaths. Here are a few tips to remember:

Keeping children safe

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

Swimming in open water

  • Do not swim too far out into the ocean. After a while, you may struggle due to fatigue, or get swept away by strong currents.
  • Wearing a life jacket is vital. Remember your life jacket when participating in water sports such as boating, tubing or rafting.
  • When in the ocean, swim in the designated areas 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.

Helping someone who is drown­ing

  • If you are at the coast and you see someone drowning, alert a lifeguard immediately.

If you decide to save the person yourself, ensure that you wear a floatation device.

  • If someone is drowning and you are able to get them out of the water, initiate CPR if there is no pulse or breathing sounds.
  • Do not stop CPR unless the victim starts to breathe on their own.
  • Call for an ambulance as soon as possible and tell them what you are doing so that they can send the correct level of care.
  • Do not put the person in the car and drive to hospital. You may be involved in an accident, or the victim may suffer brain damage while en route to the hospital.
  • In the event 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 adults, and may be difficult to recognise.

The person may seem unscathed, even though they have taken in water that could later find its way to the lungs.

Russel Meiring, ER24

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