Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Beach and sea safety warnings as mercury rises in UAE

Officials’ stern warning to beachgoers as people gravitate towards coastal resorts to cool off from summer heat.

Police and civil defence are urging beachgoers to be careful at a time of year when many flock to the coast to cool off.

With the mercury rising, a beach breeze and a dip in the sea is the perfect tonic for some, but officials said fun could turn to tragedy if people did not comply with safety regulations.

Brig Saleh Al Matrooshi, director of Ajman Civil Defence, said people tended to ignore safety instructions and no-swim areas at beaches.

“People swim in the sea in spite of warnings and erected red flags,” he said.

“Lifeguards warn beachgoers not to swim, but they ignore them and venture in the water.”

He said that more than 50 per cent of drowning cases in Ajman happened to people who were warned repeatedly by lifeguards not to swim because of rough seas.

This month, an Iranian man drowned off a beach in Kalba, Sharjah, while swimming with his friends late at night.

The coastguard and an Armed Forces helicopter were involved in the search to retrieve the body.

In May, three women were saved by fishermen after strong currents dragged them into deep water off Al Hamriya beach, also in Sharjah.

In Dubai, an Asian man and woman were rescued in March after they got into difficulties while swimming close to the Burj Al Arab.

In January, five Asian friends were rescued off Umm Suqeim’s shore after one of them was dragged deep into the sea and the others tried to save him but could not swim back because of strong currents.

Lt Col Juma Al Falasi, director of the Search and Rescue Department at Dubai Police, said there had been 40 incidents of people in peril in local waters in the first six months of this year.

He said one person had died, three were seriously injured, 13 sustained moderate injuries and 39 were minor cases.

Ajman Civil Defence statistics show that rescue teams responded to 10 marine incidents so far this year, resulting in three deaths and nine injuries.

In Sharjah, police advised parents not to let children go to the beach without adult supervision.

“We urge parents to keep an eye on their children while swimming, to obey the rules and regulations to ensure their safety,” said Maj Ibrahim Al Sarah, deputy director of media for Sharjah Police.

In an attempt to limit the risk of drowning, Sharjah Municipality and police have cordoned off part of Al Mamzar beach.

Jet skiers have also been banned from the area to prevent crashes with swimmers and to limit disturbance for beachgoers.

Yamen Said, a father of two boys, said his children were well warned about safety measures at the beach.

“My eight and nine-year-old boys know better than to go into the water without my knowledge,” said the 37-year-old Egyptian, who lives in Al Taoun, Sharjah.

“Every weekend we spend a few hours on the beach swimming and I make sure they are watched carefully to prevent any problems.”

Mubarak Al Shamsi, director of Al Hamriya Municipality, took advantage of the influx of residents to the beaches during the Eid holidays to distribute information leaflets about beach safety.

“We took the opportunity to teach them precautions and safety regulations, to safeguard them from drowning incidents,” Mr Al Shamsi said.

“People should be aware of strong currents.

“Inexperienced swimmers swim far from the beach and are swept [away] by the strong currents, and end up struggling to come back and, in some cases, they drown.”

In the capital, two people drowned in the first quarter of this year, The National’s Arabic sister paper, Aletihad, reported.

roueiti@thenational.ae

tzriqat@thenational.ae

Updated: July 16, 2016 04:00 AM

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