The South African Police Service (SAPS) in KwaZulu-Natal is urging locals and holiday makers to be extra cautious when swimming in pools, the ocean and dams.
This warning comes after a number of people have recently drowned in the province.
The SAPS said educational campaigns have been carried out to promote safety at recreational facilities and by the sea.
As the festive season approaches, drowning is an ever-present risk when people go on outings to rivers, beaches, dams and swimming pools.
The SAPS added that many incidents of drowning are linked to the misuse of alcohol and recklessness.
Water safety tips
- Check the weather and the tides before you leave home – if the sea is too rough, you could be swept away.
- Only enter where the waves are straight and gentle.
- If you experience a strong current, get out of the sea, or at least do not go in deep.
- Never swim while you are intoxicated. Alcohol impairs judgement and unnecessary risks are taken. An intoxicated swimmer will tire more easily, increasing the chance of an accident and drowning.
- Check with the lifeguards on duty what the surf conditions are before entering the sea.
- Only swim in designated areas that are supervised by lifeguards.
- If the lifeguards give you directions or instructions from the beach, obey them.
- Look out for warning signs and flags – a red flag means it is dangerous to swim.
- Avoid swimming immediately after a big meal, as there is a danger of having cramps.
- Do not dive into shallow seawater this can put you at risk of damaging your neck, especially if you are diving into a shallow pool and dam.
- Do not swim in river mouths, in dirty water, very early in the mornings, early evenings or after it had rained as shark activity increases in these conditions. Do not swim when bluebottles are present as they are poisonous.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and never make a child responsible for another child – not even for five minutes. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- If a child is missing, check the water first. Every second counts in preventing drowning or permanent disability.