According to Stats SA, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death in the country.
The festive season is notorious for drownings, as many people take to swimming in rivers, dams, and swimming pools, to cool down.
Water games and pool activities can be fun, but it can also be dangerous. Langeberg Municipality cautions residents to be safe and to never leave children unattended near water.
Pink Rescue Buoys
Even though swimming is prohibited in all municipal dams, safety is still a concern as many people transgress and swim in these dams, nonetheless.
The irrigation water dam in McGregor specifically, is a hot spot for illegal swimming during the summer months. To save lives and prevent drownings at the McGregor dam, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), with the support of Langeberg Municipality, has provided us with a Pink Rescue Buoy for the purpose of saving lives.
These buoys are bright pink, so that responding rescuers can clearly spot it in the water. The pink colour is also unique to the NSRI. So, if you see this specific pink rescue buoy anywhere, other than on its pole at the irrigation water dam in McGregor, you can be sure that someone has removed it without authorization. The matter should be reported to the McGregor SAPS (023 625 8000) or Langeberg Municipality (086 088 1111).
Responding to someone in trouble
Someone who is drowning, is often too tired to wave, or to call for help. If you notice someone who struggles to swim, or to keep his/her head above the water, you should:
1. Call for help
2. If safe, try to get the person out of the water and turn him/her onto one side, to help with the coughing up of water
3. Turn the person onto his/her back and breathe air into his/her mouth, while pinching the nose closed
4. Watch if the person’s chest goes up and down and listen for breathing sounds. Determine if there are any signs of life. If not, continue with applying assisted breathing and checking for life signs, until help arrives.
Keep a close eye on your child even after swimming, or after being around water. If, within 48 hours after your child has been swimming, he/she has a cough, chest pain, trouble breathing, or is unusually tired or sleepy, you must get medical help. Your child might experience secondary drowning. In a case of secondary drowning, water fills up the lungs like when someone drowns, but the symptoms only show, up to 48 hours after occurrence of the incident in the water.
How to prevent drowning
To keep yourself and children safe in and near water, follow these guidelines:
• Always ensure that your child/children are being supervised by a responsible adult while swimming or playing in, around, or with water.
• Teach your children to swim.
• Learn how to perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and rescue techniques.
• Medical conditions such as epilepsy increase the risk of drowning. If you, or your child has epilepsy or experiences seizures, make sure to always be supervised.
• Always be prepared and know what to do in case of an emergency. Save all emergency numbers on your cell phone, or with ease of access.
• If lifeguards are present, swim in the area where they are on duty.
• Never consume alcohol before swimming.
• Avoid swimming near rocks.
• Never dive into shallow water, or bodies of water where you cannot see the bottom.