Around 300 drowning deaths occur in Australia every year. Understandably most of these deaths occur in Summer. Though beaches account for a smaller percentage compared to inland water ways and pools, most of the beach deaths are preventable.
The water near the sea shore may look calm but experienced swimmers warn that it is the most dangerous area where rip currents are. A rip is a strong current caused by water from waves breaking on the beach flowing back out to sea through deeper channels in the sand. The current can easily pull swimmers away from the shore. A quick dip in a knee high water pose real threat to an inexperienced swimmer. So always ensure that you are swimming in between the red and yellow flags. Especially when you are with children.
Most of the Indians in Australia, especially the International students, never had any experience of swimming in the sea. But lured by Australia’s beach culture, many take the risk of venturing into the sea without taking proper precautions.
Among the three Indians drowned in the sea this month, two could not swim at all and all three were swimming away from the flags. Below are a few precautions, beach goers should take.
Beach safety measures
Read and follow any safety signs on the beaches warning about conditions and currents.
Swim only on patrolled beaches and swim between the red and yellow flags. If in danger raise your arm to signal the life guards
Swim with a friends instead of going alone. If you are alone swim where other people are swimming, instead of heading for an isolated area.
If you’re caught in a rip, don’t panic and keep floating with the rip. Raise your arm to attract attention from a lifeguard if you’re on a patrolled beach. If you’re a strong swimmer, swim parallel to the beach to escape the rip, never swim directly towards the shore
Learn how to spot rips and avoid them
Feel free to ask life guards about beach safety and conditions. They may also be able to give you advise specific to the beach you are in because every beach is different.
The three Indians who lost drowned in the sea in March
Harsimranjit Singh, 21-year-old international student from India, went to Woolongong beach at around 7pm on 23rd March 2016 for a swim. Within ten minutes’ tragedy struck as he disappeared underwater. His disappearance triggered a wide scale search of the beach involving Wollongong Police, water police, marine rescue and Ambulance Helicopter.
The next day at around 2pm the young international student’s body was recovered. He was the only son of elderly parents who live in Punjab. He used to live with his sister over the weekend in Queanbeyan in Canberra and worked at Woolongong.
Alpesh Kumar Patel
Alpesh Kumar Patel, 25 years old international student from India, drowned at Semaphore on 25th March 2016 after taking part in a Hindu religious festival. He was also the only son of elderly parents from Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
Alpesh was living in Australia with his wife while he studied at the University of South Australia. Patel could not swim but went in the water to bathe with friends near the breakwater at Semaphore Beach in Adelaide after taking part in Holi Celebrations. He went with three other friends and none of them could swim. They were in chest high water, while Alpesh lost control and went into deep water. Though friends tried to save him, they were helpless.
Photo Courtesy: http://australianmalayalee.com
Two men, one hailing from Ernakulum in Kerala, Tharun Gokul (30 years) and the other from Bangladesh died at the Park Beach in Coffs Harbour in NSW at about 3:40pm on 22nd March 2016.
The two men, aged 28 and 30, have entered the water at Park Beach between Coffs Creek and the north wall, about 600 metres south of the patrolled area at about 3.40pm. The area they entered was the site of a large rip and the pair was quickly dragged out.
Since they were away from the patrolled area, the incident did not catch the attention of the lifeguards.
The 28-year-old Bangladeshi man was pulled from the water by a member of the public and after five to ten minutes of CPR rushed to Coffs Harbour Hospital, but he died a short time later.
The second man was found by the lifesavers and resuscitation efforts were continued for some time but believed to have died at the scene.