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Fun in the surf off Phuket: how waves can save lives

Phuket Lifesaving Carnival, Patong, October 3

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
PHUKET's second Surf Lifesaving Carnival is set to take place on Saturday, October 3 with more fun events . . . and improving the island's beach safety as its aim.

Training and establishing a beach-safety culture is what will save the lives of visitors and residents and restore Phuket's reputation as a year-round holiday destination.

Latest Public Health figures show that there were six drownings in and around Phuket in August, bringing the total for the year to 42.

While this figure includes seven victims of a dive boat accident, fishermen swept from rocks and pool deaths, many among the total are preventable drownings along Phuket's popular beaches.

A properly trained and equipped lifesaving force is the answer. This is evident in the large Australian tourist state of Queensland, where there was not a single beach drowning this summer.

For the sake of comparison, there were 19 deaths on Phuket's roads in August, worst month for the year - perhaps because of the double deluge of rain - bringing the total for the year so far to 114.

To have the drowning tally at 42 indicates the scale of the problem. Most of the drownings (as well as many of the road deaths) are preventable.

Responding to Phuket's water safety needs, Phuket Lifeguard Club is aiming the second lifesaving carnival on Patong beach at all age groups, with international competitors also expect to attend.

The first highly successful carnival last year spawned a series of mini-carnivals once a month for youngsters at popular beaches all over the island.

Known as ''nippers,'' the children who learn lifesaving techniques on Phuket's beaches are likely to be the ones saving lives (and saving Phuket's safe reputation) in the near future.

So for the first time at Patong's Loma Park this year, an under 15's category has been included. Special prizes will be awarded to encourage more Thai competitors.

The emphasis is on having a great time and a great sporting event.

The Phuket Lifeguard Club (a non-profit organisation established in 2003) is the organiser.

Sponsors include Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort, Patong Municipality, Phuket International Hospital and Absolute Resorts.

The complete program across all age groups can be found at www.phuketlifeguard.com

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