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Web Desk
June 13, 2019

Six things that lifeguards want you to know


Web Desk
Thu, Jun 13, 2019

With the monsoon season around the corner and the summer holidays fast approaching, there are chances that Karachi’s beaches will witness more exuberant visitors than waves. 

And the waves may appear innocuous to begin with but could turn out to be highly unpredictable.

Caution has to be practiced because it is these very waves and the rip currents that can easily sweep, even the best of swimmers away, and engulf them in the depths of the sea. 

The turbulent waves are indication of the sea being at its fiercest state, yet most of us don’t take the state of the sea seriously enough, and prefer venturing into deep waters, often finding ourselves in unanticipated situations.

Although, to our luck, during the most active time of year – the monsoon season – lifeguards are seen cautioning people against the dangers associated with the sea and ensuring that no one goes too far out trying to befriend the untamed waves.

Here are the six things that the PALS Rescue lifeguards want you to know:

1. They are not aliens sent from another planet trying to keep you away from the sea:

Lifeguards are as human as you and me; the only difference is that they are on duty from 9 in the morning until sunset, which translates into a long day for them. 

They are born swimmers and know the sea better than the rest of us because all of them belong to the fisherman community and swimming, to them, is a very natural skill.

If they are cautioning you away from being in a certain spot, know that it’s for your own good and there is nothing in it for them except for the purpose to serve humanity.

 When an emergency occurs, it is these people who put their own lives at stake to rescue the victim. Pay heed to what they have to advice, aggression hasn’t ever helped humanity!

The lifeguards usually place specific flags at a certain distance from each other, marking the territories that are safe for beachgoers, so please stay within those boundaries. Don’t wait for them to turn away just so you can avail the opportunity to “break the rules.” They’re there for a reason!

2. If the sea is rough, don’t go into the water:

Isn’t this already understood? Well, not everyone takes this advice seriously enough unless something really unpleasant happens which is likely if you are to go plunging into the deep sea. Although the lifeguards are there to watch everyone, we don’t necessarily need to know how good they are at their job so much so that we would want them to demonstrate it! Treat your life as a blessing and do not experiment with it when the sea is looking rough.

3. Watch out for rip currents:

Rip currents are often difficult to see, but you can spot them in areas where waves aren’t breaking, or where there’s foam, seaweed, or discolored water being pulled offshore (area marked by red arrows)

4. The response time is of only 3 minutes to save a person from drowning:

If anyone you know is drowning, do not rush towards him/her, thinking that you would save that person; else you would be putting yourself in grave danger. 

Instead, look for the nearest lifeguard and ask for help. If he has identified the drowning victim, chances are that he is already on his way to rescue that person.

Often times, when someone is drowning, the number of victims adds up, through a chain event, as the rest of the family members dive in, in pursuit of that one person who was swept away. Leave it to the experts in this case and have faith!

When the saviours have performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), make sure that the victim is taken to the nearest hospital for further treatment as that is vital to his/her survival and let an unaffected, cognizant person drive the vehicle. Any emotionally distraught person, given the situation, may endanger bystanders along the way. All lives matter, so responsibility and presence of mind are the key.

5. Do not litter at the beaches. They are your home!

The presence of lifeguards is not just about saving human lives; they are out there to protect marine life and to safeguard people against injuries that are often the result of litter lying around. Know that the depths of the Arabian Sea are not awaiting our teabags, glass bottles, plastic wrappers, and especially the polystyrene cups that can take from a few years till as much as a million years to biodegrade. Now is the time to act responsibly because it’s now or never.

People often sustain injuries as a result of irresponsible disposal of trash, for example, broken glass bottles and disposed cutlery.

6. An onion is definitely not the solution for Bluebottle stings:

It’s a common myth that Bluebottle (Portuguese Man O’ War jellyfish) stings should be treated by rubbing an onion on the affected area. This simply aggravates the wound because of the tentacles residue that may still remain subcutaneously and is being spread by rubbing.

The preferred treatment is through pouring hot or cold water, and not touching the area that was stung. Touching will make the sting worse, as the poison gets deeper into the skin. Better yet, reach out to the nearest Command & Control Centre that houses lifeguards and life-saving equipment.