One of the 19 new safety signs installed at beaches around the island by the National Conservation Commission and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority. (NCC)

The National Conservation Commission’s (NCC) popular Save Our Selves (S.O.S) Swimming Programme is riding the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of the viral illness and the resulting protocols, the NCC will not be holding the annual “learn to swim” classes for persons 10 years and older, this year. Instead, it will focus on the public education component of the programme.

Part of that component will be to highlight 19 new signs which have recently been installed at popular bathing spots around the island, with the help of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA).

In a recent release, the Commission explained the reasoning behind the new beach signage.

“Not all beaches are supervised by lifeguards and every beach has its own peculiarities relating to tides and currents, etc.  To this end, the Barbados Lifeguard Service recognized that tourists and locals are both vulnerable, requiring additional information and direction due to their unfamiliarity with the ocean at the various locations around the island. It is therefore incumbent on us as a nation to protect visitors and locals from potential hazards, unfamiliar environs and possible threats,” the release stated.

The S.O.S programme will focus on some of the key educational areas in beach safety, such as being able to identify and swim at lifeguard supervised beaches; recognizing beaches that are not suitable for swimming as they may present constant or potential hazardous conditions; recognizing lifeguards on duty (by uniform – yellow and red); following the instructions/advice of lifeguards; and understanding the meaning of the various flags that are utilized by lifeguards in the execution of their duties.

After careful consideration of these areas, the NCC collaborated with the BTPA to develop the necessary artwork to fabricate and install the signs.

Nine Be Beach Smart signs have been erected at Barclays Park, Foul Bay, Worthing Beach, Needham’s Point, Welches Beach, Holetown Beach, Batts Rock, Maxwell Beach and Pier Head Beach.  

Another nine Caution Dangerous Current signs were strategically placed along the Ermy Bourne Highway, and one Danger – Do Not Swim Here sign has been placed at Barclays Park.

The S.O.S programme is designed to acquaint participants with the experience of ocean swimming and its hazards, while exposing them to an environment that will teach respect for the marine environment, in order to promote more responsible behaviours. 

The Barbados Lifeguard Service, which falls under the auspices of the NCC, facilitates the programme.

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