CHENNAI: With at least seven people drowning in the city’s beaches in the last ten days and lakhs of people expected to throng the beaches during the Pongal holidays, police are strengthening their vigil along the beaches to prevent any untoward incidents.
“A team of 110 ‘rescue-members’ including local fishermen, rescue-swimmers (lifeguards) and volunteers are being deployed at the Marina, Elliot’s and Thiruvanmiyur Beaches,” said C Sylendra Babu, ADGP, Coastal Security Group.
Notice boards cautioning the public have been put up and fences have been erected along the beach to prevent people from entering the sea.
According to police records, around 350 people have drowned in the sea across the state, of which 41 of the accidents occurred in Chennai. Most of the victims were youngsters in the age between 17 and 22 years.
“Ninety per cent of the people who venture into the sea do not know swimming and most of them are under the influence of alcohol,” said Showkath Jamal, Founder, Bay of Life, a surfing school in Kovalam.
He further said that there is a misconception that people are dragged into the sea by the waves, which is not true. He explained that waves hit the shore and return to the sea and a person is usually dragged for only five to six feet from the shore. Technically, such a person cannot drown at this length. It is only when the person starts panicking, his body becomes stiff and hence gets pulled into the water.
“It is important that the person does not panic. It is a known fact that it is easier to float in salt water than fresh water. Hence, first he should start floating and the wave will again wash him back to the shore, he should start swimming very slowly,”
“Another major mistake that people make is they over-dress while venturing into the sea. They wear jeans and shoes which makes them heavier making it difficult for them to swim,” he added.
Incidents of drowning in the last ten days
January 4: Four bodies recovered from beaches of Besant Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur
January 10: One medical college student was washed away in Kovalam sea and another student was rescued
January 12: Two engineering students from Karnataka drowned at the Besant Nagar Beach on Monday night and one was rescued and is undergoing treatment
Do’s and Don’ts
DO NOT venture into the sea, if you do not known swimming
DO NOT venture into the sea, when there is alcohol in the body
DO always carry a life jacket or body board when venturing into the sea
DO wear appropriate clothes before entering into the sea