Be Water Wise

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The National Sea Rescue Institute has an important role to play in teaching water and boating safety to schools, scout groups, yacht clubs and other service organisations. Groups of children are given tours of local NSRI bases where they are made familiar with the objectives of the Institute as well as being shown the equipment used during rescue operations.

Due to a concerted effort by the Department of Transport inconjunction with the NSRI towards the education of the boating public, and as a direct result of the effectiveness of the NSRI’s rescue activities, there has been a dramatic drop in sea-related accidents and lives lost. In its education efforts, the Institute also works closely with the S.A Maritime Safety Authority, S.A Deep Sea Angling Association, S.A Underwater Union and S.A. Inflatable Boat Association.

Sadly there is little or no form of education for the underprivileged masses in the art of being ‘water wise’ but the NSRI is working on a solution to this too.

It is a fact that there are more people who drown inland than along the coast. The majority of those who drown are people from the under privileged sector between the ages of four and twelve.

The NSRI has embarked on a fund-raising campaign for a ‘Water Wise Programme’ which comprises videos, hands-on lectures and the involvement of various service organisations. Swimming teachers throughout South Africa are being encouraged to educate children in the 6-10 year old age group. Preliminary negotiations for this programme have resulted in positive responses. This bodes well for the future and effectiveness of the ‘Water Wise Programme.’

Adhere to the following guidelines and dramatically reduce your risk of getting into danger in the water.

Swimming in the Sea

  • Don't underestimate the power of the sea.
  • Always swim only at recognized bathing beaches.
  • Always obey lifesavers on duty.
  • Always swim between demarcating beacons.
  • Never panic when in trouble - raise one arm vertically for help.
  • Don't swim in river mouths or in dirty water.
  • Avoid swimming where there are bluebottles present.

Diving and Snorkeling

  • NEVER DIVE ALONE! (Dive alone, Die alone.)
  • Don't wear earplugs.
  • Don't dive with a cold.
  • Always dive in SAFE areas.

Fishing - Rock and Surf

  • Always use non-skid foot wear on rocks.
  • If at night, always fish with a partner.
  • Look out for freak waves.
  • Keep fishing area clean.
  • Be sure of your footing.
  • Always cast when safe to do so.
  • Obey fishing regulations.


  • Always ensure boat is fully equipped before launching.
  • Always have lifejackets close at hand (wear them if launching from the surf and when beaching).
  • Be sure to check the weather before leaving shore.
  • Never overload your boat.
  • Know all boating regulations and obey them.
  • Know the emergency signals and carry the necessary emergency flares if at sea or on large dams.
  • Be considerate.
  • Always keep a good all around lookout.
  • NEVER mix alcohol and boating.

Surfing, Paddleskiing and Sailboarding.

  • Always keep well away from bathing areas.
  • NEVER surf or paddleski alone.
  • Have a 'buddy' system.
  • Protect yourself from the elements.
  • Wear a wet suit.
  • Know your limitations.


  • Always watch the weather.
  • Always have lifejackets close at hand.
  • Always protect yourself against the elements.
  • Beware of hypothermia.
  • Always keep your boat and full set of equipment in good order.
  • Know the emergency signals and carry the necessary emergency flares if at sea or on large dams.
  • On dams, know your rules of the road and local rules and obey them.
  • Always obtain permission to sail offshore.
  • File a cruise plan.
  • Always double check your rigging and all equipment.
  • Always keep a good all around lookout.

Swimming in Dams and Rivers

  • Never swim alone.
  • Never dive into muddy water.
  • Keep well away from power craft areas.
  • Be careful of currents and undertows in fast running rivers.

Swimming in Swimming pools.

  • Supervise children at all times.
  • Stay out of water during thunderstorms.
  • Keep glass away from pools.
  • Don't swim after heavy meals: don't eat and swim.
  • Don't allow pushing in or horseplay around the pool.
  • Don't duck others in the pool.
  • Never swim alone.

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