Summer Travel Safety

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Summer is in the air, and the time has come for many people to take it back to the beach.

With many of us heading towards the coastal regions of the country, there is no doubt that the beaches will be highly populated. You can take the necessary precautionary measures to protect yourself and your children against the dangers faced at the beach, however there is no telling how other people might behave on the beach or how various elements at the beach might respond to changes in wind, general weather and the current of the ocean. In this light, a very real danger of near drowning threatens the peace we chase when going to the beach. It is important to know how to prevent yourself or your family from drowning at the beach. This article will explain what near-drowning is, the various factors that may lead to it, its temporary and permanent effects, as well as the ways in which Affinity Rescue is able to assist members in similar situations.

According to “Near-drowning is the term for survival after suffocation caused by submersion in water or other fluid. Some experts exclude from this definition cases of temporary survival that end in death within 24 hours, which they prefer to classify as drownings.”[1] Of course, near-drowning is not exclusive to swimming at the beach – this can happen in any body of water, such as bathtubs, swimming pools, dams, rivers, and water parks.

The effects of near drowning are not as fatal as drowning, however the risk of suffering brain damage due to oxygen deprivation or related organ failure remains high. Time is still of the essence, especially because it can be difficult for a person to be spotted and rescued by lifeguards before emergency medical assistance can get to the scene.

Rapid response is key! 

Near-drowning happens very quickly. Within 3 minutes most people fall unconscious and within 5 minutes the brain and the heart begin to give way [2]. The most frequent cause of near-drowning is the loss of control of your motion against the current of water. Therefore, it is always important to be near lifeguards at the beach and make sure that nobody swims without constant supervision. Even adults are prone to experiencing near drowning, no matter how fit or experienced they are at swimming.

The signs and symptoms of near drowning can differ from person to person depending on: how long you have been under water, your age, and the temperature and salt content of the water. Upon rescue, some victims are alert but agitated or disoriented, while others are comatose, breathing and heartbeat may have stopped, or the victim may be gasping for breath, bluish skin, coughing, vomiting, and frothy pink saliva (this comes out from the respiratory tract when coughing) are often seen. Rapid breathing and a rapid heart rate are common during the first few hours after rescue. You might experience hypothermia (drop in body temperature)[3].

Emergency medical services must be called for intervention as soon as lifeguards have been sent out to attempt to rescue you. Once you have been safely delivered to a dry and safe place, urgent stabilisation needs to happen to restore your health. This time period is called The Golden Hour. It is important to recover the oxygen levels of the body to make sure the body does not suffer extensive damage and reach a fatal or terminal state.

Stabilisation is the process of preventing a sick or injured person from having their medical condition worsen too quickly before they can receive medical treatment. It is performed by the first medically trained practitioner to arrive on scene. It includes controlling bleeding, arranging for proper evacuation, keeping patients warm with blankets, and calming them by providing personal attention and concern for their well-being. Failure to stabilise a person from trauma can result in fatal after-effects, hence the event would be deemed life-threatening.

Near-drowning is one of the life-threatening events covered by Affinity Rescue for stabilisation in the following ways:

  • 24/7 call centre to assist with Trauma Counselling and Emergency Medical Information (Telephonic advice);
  • Casualty Room Stabilisation with a benefit of up to R14 000 for 2 events per year;
  • Issuing a Guarantee of Payment of Up to R75 000 for Hospital Stabilisation for 1 event per single person or 2 events per family; and
  • Immediate dispatch of Life-threatening Emergency Medical Response, Stabilisation in the ambulance and Medical Transportation to the nearest medical facility.

We’re here to help you this festive season. Should any such emergency arise, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0861 11 77 74.



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