The festive season is upon us and with South Africans heading for beach holidays across the country, it’s now particularly pertinent to discuss beach safety.
From the remote to the super crowded, South Africans love beaching. Whether it’s the jam-packed slice of sand stretching along Clifton’s shores, to the more remote warmers waters of beaches like Uvongo Beach, safety should always be top of mind.
READ: Coastal SA dorpies you might have never heard of
For this first week of school holidays, the SA Weather Service released a spring tide warning, which will be at its highest on Thursday and Friday along South Africa's coastline. Special caution should be taken in the ocean before, during and afterwards as the ocean will be extra salty during this time.
Low tide will also be lower-than-normal, and when it hits high tide flooding might occur in low-lying places like rocky outcrops and headlands.
Below is a list of the times when the tidal level will be at its highest for the major coastal towns and cities:
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Thursday 12 December
- Cape Columbine - 15:42/0.81m
- Cape Town - 15:22/0.73m
- Mossel Bay - 16:16/0.94m
- Port Elizabeth - 15:51/0.83m
- East London - 15:49/0.79m
- Durban - 15:51/0.84m
- Richard's Bay - 15:50/0.88m
Friday 13 December
- Cape Columbine - 16:22/0.81m
- Cape Town - 16:02/0.73m
- Mossel Bay - 16:54/0.94m
- Port Elizabeth - 16:28/0.83m
- East London - 16:26/0.80m
- Durban - 16:27/0.85m
- Richard's Bay - 16:26/0.89m
READ: 10 SA beaches that will make you feel like you're living on an island
There are still other ways you need to stay safe on the beaches this summer, even if it isn't spring tide.
Do your research before heading to the beach. Enquire whether there will be a lifeguard on duty that day or during the times you and you family decide to go to the beach. It’s important to ensure you also stay in between the lifeguard flags, as this is the cordoned off area reserved for swimming.
If a lifeguard is not on duty at a beach known for its tides and strong currents, do not swim there.
TIP: Know your Sea Rescue bases. The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is manned by over 1 000 volunteers at rescue bases around the coast and on inland dams. If you have an emergency, call them instead of trying to do the rescue yourself if untrained. If you try to be a hero, you’d only be jeopardising your own safety as well as the person that’s in distress. So be sure to have the contact numbers of emergency services at hand. A second could change everything!
Rip currents are super dangerous, especially as they move slowly enough to barely be detected. Much quicker than a tide, they move faster than any of us can swim. But if anything, don't panic if you find yourself caught in one. And try to keep your head above water at all costs.
How to spot them?
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