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Safety-first on the beach loungers at Phuket's Kata beach

Phuket Lifeguards Save Expat, Thai Swimmers

Sunday, July 4, 2010
PHUKET'S beach lifeguards have saved almost 100 expats and 71 Thais from drowning since the new structure was introduced in April, newly compiled figures reveal.

Release of the lifeguard statistics means that for the first time, it's possible to determine which beaches are Phuket's safest - and most dangerous. However, because some beaches are much larger and more popular than others, direct comparisons could be unfair.

Patong beach and Nai Harn beach, in Phuket's south, have been the scene of the greatest number of rescues. Patong, the most popular tourist beach on Phuket's west coast, has recorded the largest number of incidents involving jellyfish stings.

According to the Phuket Lifeguard Club statistics, there were two deaths in the water at Phuket beaches between April 26 and June 25: Phuketwan has reported the drowning of 21-year-old British tourist Rebecca Callaghan at Karon and the death of German visitor Marek Klein, 51, in heavy surf at Surin.

The release of beach-by-beach figures on rescues, deaths and others incidents represents a refreshing new transparency which will allow authorities to target the beaches with the greatest need.

Another set of statistics, provided by the Phuket Health Department, reported five drownings for Phuket in the full calendar month of April and three more in May. These figures also include deaths relating to fishing, diving and along Phuket's on-shore waterways and in pools.

What the statistics will enable lifeguard leaders to do is to concentrate more resources at the beaches with the greatest need. Combined with more intense warnings at those places on specific beaches where people constantly find themselves in difficulties, this new transparency represents a huge step forward for water safety on the island.

The same kind of strategic thinking has allowed authorities to deal with ''black spots'' on Phuket's roads, leading to a reduction in the once-horrific toll. Similar attention is needed on the water.

Last year's drowning total for Phuket of 57 is exceptionally high when compared with the 2009 road toll deaths at 153.

The newly released lifeguard figures show that there were 29 people involved in what are described at ''near drownings'' at Nai Harn beach, 44 at Patong and 21 at Karon. Seven rescues took place at Surin beach and six at Nai Thon.

Sixty-three expats were involved in ''near drowning'' along with 54 Thais.

There were 16 incidents involving jellyfish at Patong and another six at Bang Tao.

Four people were also treated as a result of what are called ''speedboat'' incidents at Patong. Three ''jet-ski'' incidents are also recorded at Patong. A total of five people from all beaches required hospital treatment.

Eighty-three lifeguards at 13 popular Phuket beaches monitor swimmers who enter the water in the zones defined by red and yellow lifeguard flags. The 9.9 million baht contract runs from April to November.

A more permanent system that gives Phuket all-year protection and does not require annual tenders is still to be achieved.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

gravatar

And still, what does a red and yellow flag
mean ?
Patrolled but unsafe? Safe to swim or not?
Using red for caution and then again for "patrolled" is confusing.

Posted by Ripley on July 4, 2010 16:44

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Statistics, eh ? And of course they are accurate and of course they are reliable, just like the safety on our local beaches which as we all know does not really exist

Was watching a "lifeguard" the other day as he spent two hours chatting up some cute little tourist girl with his back to the sea. Yep I feel safe with that kind of care and attention.....I wonder if he even knows how to swim...?

Posted by you must be joking on July 5, 2010 06:35

Editor Comment:

Your cynicism is unfounded and unfair. I'm sure the lifeguards would welcome you as a volunteer and be only too happy to let you check their stats. And you can flex your muscles and talk to all the ''cute little tourist girls'' you spot.

gravatar

Fantastic to see a positive approach. Hope the info remains open and all transparent as it will really help Phuket improve its beach safety records. Let's hope the Phuket Lifeguard Club gets a renewal on its contract when the time comes.

Posted by Duncan on July 5, 2010 08:39

gravatar

Well Alan, being old , overweight and happily married I am in no position to "flex my muscles at the cute little tourist girls " as you so quaintly suggest and that said , I am hardly a viable candidate for rescue volunteer work but unfounded ? Cynicism ? Surely you must be joking !!The individual in question was clearly shirking his duties.
He was obviously much more interested in "getting some" than doing his job.How then can you construe my comment as cynical ? Check your dictionary definition, old son.As for unfounded, well again I must disagree. Anyone who has lived on this island for as many years as you or I knows full well that in the past when, on occasion, we have had "lifeguards" on our beaches, many have been unqualified and some have not even possessed the ability to swim, this as recently as last year.
Am not against the positive approach but you are trying to paint rose apples, AGAIN.

Gee I wonder if you will print this as is or if you will"moderate" it to suit your own ends as you have in the past.

Cheers!

Posted by you must be joking on July 7, 2010 08:31

Editor Comment:

you must be joking, it may be time for you to acknowledge that attempts are being made to correct the mistakes of the past. One lifeguard chatting up a girl (shock, horror) is hardly cause to assume that nothing has changed. The transparency provided by the statistics will quickly indicate whether Phuket's beach safety has improved. Along with helmets and road safety and the summit with honorary consuls, the improvements to the beach lifeguard structure indicate that Phuket authorities are not living in the past. It would be a shame if the expat community doesn't follow their lead.

gravatar

Fair enough

Cheers

Posted by you must be joking on July 7, 2010 12:43


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