Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas picnic turns to tragedy

By Nadia Samie
25 December 2007

It’s a sad Christmas for a family in KwaZulu-Natal, who lost their youngest child in a drowning incident earlier today.

News24 reports that the family was picnicking along the Midmar Dam in Pietermaritzburg shortly before noon, when the 7-year-old and his two siblings went into the water. A short while later the two older children were pulled from the water by police search and rescue personnel. They are currently being treated and will later be moved to a Pietermartitzburg hospital. However, the their young brother was declared dead on the scene.

The report says it is still not clear how the children experienced difficulty in the water.

The National Sea Rescue Institute has the following tips:

  • Read and obey all rules and posted signs;
  • Children or inexperienced swimmers should take precautions, such as wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) when around the water;
  • Watch out for the dangerous “too’s” — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity;
  • Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep);
  • Be knowledgeable of the water environment you are in and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, depth charges, obstructions and where the entry and exit points are located. The more informed you are, the more aware you will be of hazards and safe practices;
  • Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather;
  • Use a feet-first entry when entering the water;
  • Enter headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving and has no obstructions;
  • Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body's ability to stay warm.

    In an emergency at sea, call 082 911.

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