Busy season for city’s lifeguards

Lifeguards Tyrique Wendell and Bongani Dube keeping an eye on bathers at Monwabisi Beach.

With thousands of people hitting the beaches over the festive season, the City’s seasonal lifeguards have had a challenging time.

Since the beginning of December, there have been seven confirmed fatal drownings at beaches, and one person missing at sea, presumed drowned.

“It’s unfortunate that all of these tragic incidents have happened at beaches that are not designated swimming areas, or outside of lifeguard duty hours,” said mayoral committee member for community services and health, Patricia Van der Ross.

“We still have a few months of beach weather lying in wait, so I want to renew my appeal to the public to please abide by the rules, for their own safety. Swim only where lifeguards are present, and listen to their instructions when you do go into the water. Our lifeguards and support services have been working incredibly hard thus far this season, even extending their hours on occasion where beaches have been very busy. But they can only do so much – safety is a shared responsibility,”

During the same period, there have been 11 non-fatal drownings.

Children visiting busy beaches had been issued wristbands as part of the Identikidz project to prevent them from getting lost. Each wristband has a number linked to a caregiver’s contact details.

The City campaign had tagged 85 916 children by January 1. Of these, 263 had to be reunited with their caregivers.

Participating beaches are Big Bay, Camps Bay, Fish Hoek, Gordon’s Bay, Harmony Park, Melkbosstrand, Milnerton Beach, Mnandi, Monwabisi, Muizenberg, Sea Point and surrounding areas, Silwerstroom, Strand and Strandfontein. Maiden’s Cove was included on the list of participating beaches on December 26 and January 1.

“Beaches along the False Bay coast between Muizenberg and Strand have recorded the highest number of children being tagged since the project started. Unsurprisingly, the New Year’s long weekend has been busiest thus far, with 36 959 children tagged, and 198 reunions.

“Identikidz will still be available over the next three weekends at the participating beaches, and we encourage parents to continue working with us, and to make use of this incredibly valuable service,” said Ms Van der Ross.

Parents had tough times looking after their little ones who were enjoying the water.