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Water safety in the Lowveld this summer

Whether you are out with your friends or with your children for a day by the water, it is important to take measures to keep you and your family safe.

One of South Africa’s most popular summer holiday destinations, Mpumalanga, is well known for its breathtaking scenery, its plentiful cascading waterfalls, the wildlife, and of course, its scorching temperatures.

As holidaymakers and residents alike seek respite from the unbearable warm weather this season, a quick dip in a pool, or nearby dam or river may be on the cards, while others may decide to use the opportunity to go fishing or paddling.

Captain Pottie Potgieter of the Ehlanzeni Police Diving Unit reminded Lowvelders and visitors that Lowveld rivers and dams are riddled with crocodiles and hippos. He said it was important to always be aware of your surroundings when by the water.

He advised the people never to swim alone and warned them not to go into the water if they are under the influence of alcohol. He urged people to never leave their children unsupervised while swimming.

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“All it takes is for you to turn your head for a few seconds and your child can be swept downstream,” he said. Potgieter added that when boating, people need to strictly adhere to the necessary regulations, such as wearing life jackets, and sticking to the speed limit, especially when pulling friends along on a rubber tube.

“If you are on a rubber tube behind a speeding boat and you fall off and hit the water, you can break a few ribs or even a leg or arm,” he warned. People should also keep an eye on the weather and that if lightning is spotted, to get out of the water. “If it is a very hot day, people must remember to keep applying sunscreen and to stay hydrated.”

He said people were also frequenting hiking trails in the Lowveld and urged potential hikers to notify friends and family of the places where they would be walking, and the time they are expected to finish with the hike.

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“If you get lost, stay where you are. We will come to find you. The same applies for people out on the water. Let your family and friends know where you are and when you expect to be back.”

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