You could be fined up to R500 on Cape Town’s beaches this season

By Danielle van Wyk

Festive season is also beach season, but with the high influx of beach-goers in recent years, this has become increasingly dangerous. To be safe and sound this year we did a round-up of things you need to know.

According to alderman JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, and the Western Cape Government, here are the 14 top tips for looking after the beach and yourself:

1. Be sure to clean up after yourself. Whether it be leftover snacks and waste packaging or plastic and glass bottles.

2. No consumption of alcohol is allowed on any Western Cape beaches.

3. Swim only where there are lifeguards on duty and where signs indicate that it's safe to swim.

4. Make sure that lifeguards can see you when you are in the water.

5. Don't swim when lifeguards are off duty.

6. At the beach, always swim between the red and yellow flags. These indicate safe and supervised swimming areas. Areas outside these flags might conceal dangerous currents and tides.

7. Only swim in areas where other people are present.

8. Surfers and body-boarders should not surf in areas where bait and game fish are running or where seals are present, or seabirds are diving.

9. If you see someone in trouble in the sea, alert the lifeguards or find help. Don't put your own life in danger as well.

10. Don't drink and swim or drive motor boats. Alcohol dulls the senses, slows the reactions and can cause irresponsible behaviour.

11. Don't dive from tidal pool walls, as this has been known to result in spinal injuries.

12. Swim only at low tide when no waves are breaking over the tidal pool walls. The pools provide a safer option to swim in than the oceans, as the currents are kept at bay.

13. Do not take out small or unstable boats far from shore in choppy water or stormy weather.

14. Ensure that you protect your skin from too much exposure to the sun. Too much sun can cause sunstroke.

15. Stay indoors during the hottest time of the day (11am to 3pm), and make use of sunscreen, hats and other attire.

How are these being enforced?

While you may be aware of some of the above rules, every year the City experiences a spike in drowning incidents, theft and child abductions. In most cases alcohol is a role-player. For this reason, the City has committed to clamping down on the illegal consumption of alcohol on Cape Town beaches. 

“Alcohol confiscations from beaches are a crucial part of the City’s enforcement efforts over summer in a bid to ensure public safety. The confiscations are done in accordance with City by-laws that prohibit the introduction and consumption of alcohol on beaches and other public places. Anyone found in possession of or consuming alcohol on beaches or any other public space is fined R500 and their alcohol is confiscated. The public can reclaim alcohol from the City pound, but an impoundment release fee is charged in this regard,” adds Smith.

Around water safety, the City deploys more than 280 lifeguards during the peak season to man a number of beaches along the coastline.

“We run ongoing education and awareness campaigns around water safety to ensure public safety all year long,” Smith adds.

In recent years following the high occurrences of missing children, the Identikidz programme has also been introduced. It encourages parents to get their children registered and issued with an armband upon arrival at participating beaches. These bands have the parents’ contact details on it, which helps to reunite the child with their parents or group should they get separated or lost.

*For more information on which beaches run the Identikidz programme, contact the City of Cape Town.

While there are activism groups dedicated to keeping our beaches clean,  a lot more can be done.

“It would also be great if there were teams employed full time to hand out bags to beach goers to do their own beach cleanups and ensure that they remove any items that they bring onto the beach,” adds Greg Player, director of Clean C Cape Town Beach Cleanup.

To play your part in keeping our shores clean, contact Clean C or Two Oceans Aquarium.

Take note
The City has a well-established Festive Season blueprint. Please see the link for details on the plan that was implemented in December 2017: http://resource.capetown.gov.za/cityassets/Media%20Centre%20Assets/Festive%20season%202017_18.pdf

Here are also a few of the City’s general water safety tips for residents and visitors, as pertains to swimming pools and beaches: http://www.capetown.gov.za/Explore%20and%20enjoy/visitor-safety/general-safety-awareness/water-safety-at-pools-and-beaches

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