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Awareness and lifeguards can combine to prevent Phuket drownings

How to Stop Beach Drownings on Phuket

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
SWIMMERS continue to die on Phuket despite an investment of 10 million baht for lifeguards at the island's most popular beaches.

The drownings happen, says the deputy president of the island's key administrative body, the Orborjor, because people ignore warnings and swim where they shouldn't swim.

''Tourists and even locals do not believe the lifeguards or the red flags so they drown regardless of what we have done,'' said Choawalid Na Nakorn.

The latest needless death came on Sunday when a 16-year-old Thai youth disappeared into the surf at Karon.

His drowning adds to more than 30 fatalities recorded in the waters around the island so far this year, most of them deaths on the most popular western beaches.

The Orborjor agreed, after a lengthy period when there were no lifeguards on Phuket beaches, to pay 10 million baht for 66 lifeguards at seven beaches from June 16 to November 18.

Ten of those lifeguards are to be sent to Bali, Indonesia, in August for continued development and training. The other 55 will follow.

Equipment for executing swift rescues is also being introduced gradually.

This includes inflatable dinghies, powered by motors, to reach swimmers in difficulties as fast as possible. More people will be saved if resuscitation can be performed speedily.

But, as Phuketwan has learned in researching the reasons behind the high numbers of drownings, perception is the problem.

Visitors who do not know how dangerous the seas off Phuket can be at this time of the year will go for a swim regardless of warnings at the beach.

Resorts have a responsibility to ensure that guests who come to Phuket for a ''Summer'' beach holiday are told that the seas can be dangerous.

People also need to be told about what they should do if they are caught in what's known as a ''rip.''

These fast-moving monsoon-season currents develop unexpectedly at most Phuket beaches. They are sometimes present in the calmest-looking places.

The way to beat a rip is to ride with it out to sea, floating not fighting.

When the rip slows and stops pulling, the swimmer is free to signal to shore and swim sideways, away from the rip.

Swimmers will only be pulled under if they panic and fight instead of floating, as calmly as possible.

The number of deaths at Phuket beaches will certainly be reduced when well-trained, well-equipped lifeguards are in place.

But educating visitors and locals about the hidden dangers at appealing-looking beaches, and what to do if they happen to be caught in a rip, is the other essential in saving lives.

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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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It seems strange that these "life-savers" are all to head to Bali shortly for training and haven't been trained already!

Posted by Swimmer on July 29, 2009 19:15

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Why send them to Bali, free holiday time and a waste of money. Phuket seas just not good enough for them to train in. What rubbish.

Posted by Mouse on July 30, 2009 09:30

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From what I can read here, it is not the life guards who are drowning, its the bl**)y tourists. Should we not focus our training on the tourists ???

Posted by Graham on July 30, 2009 11:05

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He he he! I wonder why you didn't show my comment this morning. That's why this country will never sort out of this mess.

Editor: We didn't post your original comment because it was libellous and you provided no evidence to support your accusation. Will publication of wild allegations help ''sort out this mess''? Don't think so. .

Posted by Jean- Paul Patrick on July 30, 2009 16:47

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Graham, the last person to drown was a 16 year old THAI youth. .

Posted by Colin on August 3, 2009 21:12

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Hi Colin, sorry but two more people died this weekend, even after being " rescued ". Nobody tackles the sea in this monsoon season and wins.

Sad facts of the summer season and remember never turn your back on the sea.

Posted by Graham on August 3, 2009 23:19


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