Cape Town - The past weekend marked the start of patrol season for the 330 seasonal beach lifeguards and 290 municipal pool lifeguards appointed by the City to coincide with the school holidays.
Community Services and Health mayco member Zahid Badroodien said the City would be investing about R48 million in lifeguard salaries, and R300 000 on specialised personal protective equipment (PPE) and Covid-19 related training as part of the drowning prevention project this year.
He said lifeguards would be stationed at 26 bathing areas between 10am and 6pm daily, until April 12.
“Already last week we had an incident where one of our senior lifeguards was at Strand beach for a training session and managed to save two teenage boys who were caught in a rip current.”
Badroodien said if one is not a strong swimmer they must stick to the shallow water, for their own safety and that of others. Parents must not allow children to visit the beach, tidal pool or local swimming pool unsupervised.
He said the beach deployment comes just a week after the City opened a number of swimming pools.
“We realise that the restrictions could prove tricky, particularly on very warm days, but the City urges patrons to work with us and take cognisance of the bigger picture.
“We have moved to alert level 1 which has seen the return of many public amenities, but it is incumbent on every individual to continue aiding efforts to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 exposure and a potential second wave of infections in Cape Town.”
National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon urged the public to adopt a water safety mindset around coastal and inland waters.
Lambinon said to have a safe experience at the beach one should choose a beach that has lifeguards on duty and swim between their flags.
“If you do that, you don't need to worry about rip currents, or suddenly getting out of your depth. Putting an arm in the air and waving for help will get a rapid response from the lifeguards on duty,” Lambinon said.
He said unfortunately, for various reasons, people regularly swim where there are no lifeguards on duty. That may be on a beach before or after the lifeguard’s duty for the day or at a beach that did not have lifeguards.
“In a typical scenario, Sea Rescue gets an emergency call for a swimmer in difficulty and, when we get there, we find two or more people in danger of drowning,” he said.