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Time to take preventative measures to ensure safety on our beaches

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The recent sad occurrences of beach drownings, especially as young people were victims, give us all reason to sit up and reflect on such incidents, their causes and what can be done in future to at least minimize such situations. As we express our condolences to the families of the bereaved, such reflection is the obvious direction in which we must go.{{more}}

It must be a most traumatic experience for a family to lose a beloved one, especially when that person had set out for a day of relaxation, making use of our coastal environment. Imagine having to come to grips with such news when you are at home expecting the return of your daughter or son. It must be emotionally, very challenging.

Yet, it serves to bring into focus two very pertinent issues, those concerning beach safety and the personal responsibility of those of us who enjoy the beach. These are matters which must be addressed if we want to try and avoid such tragedies.

There are of course, all sorts of reasons for drowning, and some occur in most unfortunate situations, but beach safety is an issue which if properly addressed can help to mitigate those circumstances. For instance, is it not time for a more organized approach in having lifeguards permanently stationed on if not all, the more popular beaches which are regularly used by large numbers of people? Such security can be beefed up on occasions like public holidays and the school vacation season.

Then there are the preventative measures we can take – appropriate signs and warning notices prominently displayed on all beaches. Above all, we can make use of the outpouring of grief and public interest to launch a massive public education programme about beach safety. One would think that three separate incidents of drowning within the space of three weeks in such a small country would warrant such a response.

Finally, there is the matter of personal and collective responsibility. Most people go to the beach in groups, large or small. In such situations, we each must be our brother’s/sister’s keeper, literally watching each other’s back. That way early alerts can be raised in case of difficulties, and the beach guards, to which we referred, informed in due time.

But it also places the onus on us as individuals to act responsibly. There is no shortage of irresponsible behaviour by some persons, particularly on public holidays. Our public safety campaign must highlight safe practices and warn against such irresponsible and reckless behaviour. If we can take these simple steps, then we are bound to have fewer grieving families.

Time to act!

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