Fun in the sun is a must this festive season – but remember that nothing can spoil your holiday as quickly as an unexpected accident or injury. So, whilst our safety personnel are doing their utmost to protect you whilst you are on vacation, we also need you to be a partner for your own safety.
Here are a few tips:
1. LOOK OUT FOR LIFEGUARDS: Many of KZN’s beaches are protected by lifeguards. These should be your first – and only – choice if you plan to catch a few waves. Only enter the water between designated red and yellow flags, especially when swimming with children.
2. BE WATER WISE: Remember that swimming in the sea is very different from swimming in a pool. If you are concerned about water quality at any beach, save the website of the nearest local authority on your phone, so you can check.
Don’t swim during bad weather. Authorities usually close beaches to protect bathers against debris such as logs and other large items that may be washed down rivers and out to sea.
Always chat to locals to find out about strong currents known as Rip tides. If you do find yourself caught up in one, don’t panic and try to swim against it instead, signal for help and then go with the flow, treading water until you are rescued or can make your way to shore.
3. BE FAMILY FRIENDLY: Never let children out of your sight when you are near water. Youngsters should always be supervised by an adult who can swim. Groups of adults should also avoid being distracted. Losing sight of a tiny tot for a split second can spell disaster.
4. BEWARE OF BEACH CRAFT: Inflatable toys, lilos and body boards are potentially dangerous, especially in the sea. When winds are high and waves are big, they can be quickly swept out or hurt fellow bathers. So, use these under supervision and in the shallows.
5. SUN SAFETY: Guard against sun burn and heat stroke in KZN’s warm and sunny climate. Although the sun is at its hottest between 9am and 2pm, always apply a high factor sunscreen throughout the day. Small children with sensitive skins should also wear either a T-shirt or UV protective suit. Sunscreens should be waterproof and reapplied every time you swim. Sun hats and sunglasses are also essential. To prevent heat stroke, take shelter form the sun and drink regularly.
6. CUTS AND SCRAPES: Broken glass bottles and discarded fishhooks and gut on beaches can injure bare feet. Be careful where you walk. Keep a basic first aid kit in your beach or hiking bag to stop bleeding or clean a cut but always go for medical help.
7. ON ROCKY GROUND: Be careful when exploring rocky areas and tidal pools. Try not to venture to the edges of rocky outcrops– and never turn your back to the open ocean as a surprise wave can send you sprawling. If you are holidaying in the mountains, don’t get too close to unprotected edges. Always check whether a hike or rock climb matches your abilities and make sure that you have the necessary safety gear.
8. BEWARE OF BUGS: KZN, with its hot weather, is as popular with tourists as it is with bugs. Beware of stinging insects, especially those who are attracted by ice-creams and lollies. Keep an antihistamine cream handy. In the evenings, make sure you have a mosquito repellent at hand. Always check if you are staying in a malaria area so that you can take the necessary precautions. Jelly fish and blue bottle stings can be extremely painful, so avoid swimming if there are any in the water.
9. GUARD YOUR CARDS: Summer is prime hunting season for fraudsters who know people are spending savings and bonuses on vacation. Never let banking cards out of your sight. Tap rather than insert cards or use high-tech payment methods such as E wallets which often offer an extra layer of protection.
Aoid carrying unnecessary personal information and documents. Stow them safely (preferably in hotel safes). Always assume that any Wi-Fi network at a resort or public area could be compromised. So, never use internet cafes or unsecure terminals to do your banking. Report fraud to your bank immediately to minimise damage.
Beware of phone fraud and never give out your CW number or an OTP number to a caller. If you have the slightest doubt, end the call and redial your service provider’s help line to make sure that you are dealing with a bona fide problem.
10. STAY AWAY FROM SCAMS: When making a holiday booking, remember that if a special offer seems to be too good to be true, it probably is! Scammers create fake listings or misrepresent existing ones. Avoid using unknown agents or intermediaries. Use reliable search engines and cross reference properties with other websites, especially official websites like www.tourismgrading.co.za or www.kznedtea.gov.za or the TKZN Travel Guide. Always read reviews. Call the resort directly. Ask plenty of questions and, if you don’t get accurate or acceptable answers, stay away.