NSRI Media Release - 2013
SEA RESCUE – National – Wednesday, 04th December, 2013. Water Safety Message from WaterWise Academy:
The WaterWise Academy is the proactive educational initiative of the National Sea Rescue Institute. The full time Instructors have taught over 435 388 children about water safety since its inception in 2006.
Nine full time Instructors are based around South Africa and visit the classrooms of previously disadvantaged schools. Currently the WaterWise Instructors are based in Soweto, Eshowe, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Eden (Garden Route), Ceres, Paarl, Gugulethu & Khayaletsha and Mitchells Plain.
Even competent swimmers can drown so, instead of teaching kids to swim, the WaterWise Academy teaches them how to rescue their peers.We target 9 to 14 year old kids since, according to the Medical Research Council, they are most at risk of death by drowning. We teach the children what to do in an emergency, who to call for help and how to initiate basic bystander CPR while they wait for an ambulance to arrive.
The children are given a basic understanding of what to do should they find themselves in an emergency and very importantly at the coast how to identify and avoid rip currents as well as what to do if they or their friends are caught in one. The children who live inland are taught about the dangers of rivers and dams.
Transnet National Ports Authority sponsors six WaterWise Academy Instructors and our Waterwise Eden Instructor is proudly sponsored by the Department of Agriculture. Sea Rescue funds the remaining two with public donations that are made specifically to the WaterWise Academy project.
The WaterWise Instructors visit the classrooms of disadvantaged schools and teach them, through interactive activities what is safe, and what is not, when playing near or in water.
Using the acronym PLAN ( Where P stands for Plan, L of look, A for Ask and N for Never) we give them the do’s and dont’s of basic water safety. Then for the older children the First Aid HHH ( Hazards, Hello and Help) is used to teach about their own safety coming first … and finely the children have great fun learning the national emergency number 10177.
Safety tips from the WaterWise Academy:
Children should have responsible adult supervision around any water (including a bath, bucket and swimming pool) at all times. Statistics released by the Medical Research Council show the greatest number of drowning accidents occur amongst children aged between 9 and 14. Always have someone responsible watching over your children while they are swimming.
Children should never be left alone near any water.
When planning a trip to the beach choose a beach that has lifeguards on duty and swim between their flags. If you do this you don’t need to worry about rip-currents, the lifeguards will do that, and if you get into difficulty they will come and help you.
Contrary to popular belief children do not thrash around and shout for help when they are drowning. They may be able to wave and shout for help when in distress, but drowning has been proven to be silent event.
A person who is trying to tread water, with their head tilted back ... is a person in desperate need of help. They are quite possibly drowning.
If you go to a beach this holiday, remember to never ever turn your back on the sea. This is most important for anglers on rocks, and something that should be reinforced in children on holiday in an unfamiliar place.
When at the sea watch out for rip-currents. Rip currents are the greatest cause of drowning accidents along our coast. A rip current looks like rivers of water flowing fast out to sea against the incoming waves. If you are caught in a rip-current you’ll be swept out to sea faster than you’re able to swim towards the shore.
Don’t panic or try to swim against the current. As tough as this sounds, let the current take you out to sea. Raise one arm in the air and wave to alert people on the shore that you’re in trouble.
The rip-current’s force dissipates the further out to sea it gets. At the first chance you get ... swim parallel to the beach until you’re free of the rip, then use the incoming waves to aid your progress to get back to shore.
If you are stung by a Bluebottle remove any tentacles that are stuck to the skin with tweezers or a gloved hand. Wash the skin with sea water and as soon as possible immerse the site of the sting in tolerably hot water. If hot water is not available apply ice packs but avoid direct contact with the skin by wrapping the ice pack in a towel. Do not apply vinegar or rub sand on the area. See a doctor who may provide further treatment if it is needed.
If you live near a river or a dam be careful of flooding. Never try and cross a river that it in flood. Go to a safe place or simply wait for the water level to drop. Diving into rivers and dams is dangerous and may leave you paralysed if you hit your head against a rock or the bottom.
Always walk into the water if you are a good swimmer to see how deep it is. If you are not a good swimmer and want to cool off in the shallows, use a stick to check that there is not a sudden drop off or hole that you may fall into.
If you see someone who needs help use a stick or rope to pull them out of the water ... or throw them something that will help them to float like a two litre empty milk container, car tube, surfboard, soccer ball, or anything else that will float.
BOATERS AND PADDLERS:
Watch the weather forecast carefully and be prepared for the worst if weather conditions change adversely, or if you unexpectedly find yourself in an emergency situation. Always let a responsible person know the route that you plan on taking and your estimated return time. Make sure that you stick to these times and routes. Ensure that this person has the correct number and will call Sea Rescue if you do not return as scheduled.
Check that your craft and equipment are in good working order. Make sure your craft and trailer has your name and a land- based contact number for somebody who knows where you have gone stenciled on it.
And very important : Wear a Lifejacket at all times.
Keep your cell-phone, with fully charged batteries, in a watertight plastic sleeve attached to your lifejacket. Not in a locker. Carry red distress flares, a signaling mirror or CD disc, a referee’s whistle, a waterproof torch and wear brightly coloured gear, a hat and sunscreen and keep well hydrated. Make sure that you have enough drinking water on your craft.
Always wear a life-jacket while fishing close to the shore’s edge, especially on cliffs or rocks. The inflatable type of life jacket will not get in your way and may well save your life if you are washed in.
Be aware of the high and low tides and never turn your back to the sea. Take extra precautions during the bi-monthly spring tides. Rocks that you know as always being out of the water may not be safe at these extra high tides.
IN AN EMERGENCY:
Everyone living along the coast or visiting the coast should find out what their nearest Sea Rescue emergency telephone number is.
To find out what your nearest sea rescue emergency number is go to www.searescue.org.za
A very important emergency phone number to store in your phone is 10177
10177 is the national emergency Ambulance and rescue contact number and should only be used to report an emergency. It can be called from a cell phone or landline. A good emergency number that is a free call from a cell phone is 112.