Do not allow children to go to beaches unsupervised!
That is the strong message coming from the National Conservation Commission (NCC) through its lifeguards as the start of the 2012 summer vacation draws near.
And, it is a position supported by NCC General Manager, Keith Neblett, who has urged children and parents to be careful when going into the water this summer.
Mr. Neblett was, at the time, speaking to students of the Workman’s and West Terrace Primary Schools during a Water Safety Clinic on Browne’s Beach, Bay Street, St. Michael to celebrate World Oceans Day last Friday.
Under the theme: Youth: The Next Wave For Change, officials of the NCC joined with lifeguards to educate the students under the sub-theme: Respect For the Ocean.
"Each year, [some] children leave home and come to the beaches and create problems for the lifeguards. But, I want you to listen and understand the importance of the flags, and the ???dos and don’ts’ of the beach," Mr. Neblett said.
He also warned the students to be careful when they go to the beach even if they could swim.
Lifeguard, and Swim and First Aid Instructor, Christopher Gajadhar also urged parents and guardians to take responsibility for children when they accompany them to the beach.
"Parents usually come to the beach and ask the lifeguard to watch the children for them. That is wrong, because it is the parents or guardians who are responsible for the children," Mr. Gajadhar stressed.
He also advised parents taking children under the age of 16 to the beach, that they should always have them, particularly toddlers, within arm’s reach. "If you cannot reach your child when you stretch out your hand, then that child is too far [from you]," he cautioned.
He also pleaded with parents to caution their children, boys especially, when they go to ponds to fish over the summer vacation unattended.
"You can drown in three inches of water. Don’t take the water for granted. You can drown anywhere," he emphasised.
To the students, the lifeguard warned them against going to the beach unaccompanied by a parent or an adult. He also urged them to listen to the instructions of the lifeguards, and to pay attention to the yellow caution flag and the red flag which warns against swimming in treacherous waters.
Mr. Gajadhar also warned that children should desist from swimming near pipes, rocks, break waters or piers, and diving off jetties, stressing that this could result in serious injury or even death, if done incorrectly.
During a powerpoint presentation, the lifeguard also urged the Class 3 and 4 students that they should only go to one of the 18 beaches which had lifeguard stations to ensure their safety.