Cyprus Mail

Limassol drowning ‘preventable’ with more lifeguards

By Evie Andreou

LACK of funds and poor legislation to regulate the presence of lifeguards on beaches could cause further drownings, with a lifeguard saying that Sunday’s case in Limassol could have been prevented had there been more people on duty.

A 25-year-old tourist from Serbia, who was at the beach near Le Meridien hotel, was carried away by waves at a point where there were no lifeguards.

He was brought out to shore unconscious by his friends and lifeguards from the nearby public beach, some 500 metres away.

They tried to resuscitate him before he was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Michalis Kyprianou, of the Limassol lifeguards’ association said that his colleagues usually cover 100 more than metres on either side of their designated beaches, and there is also the issue of visibility.

“The (drowning) man was 500 metres beyond (the public area) and the beach there is not visible by the lifeguard since there is a dock between the lifeguard and the specific beach,” Kyprianou said.

He added that 150 lifeguards are needed to cover the 21km coastline of Limassol’s public beaches, almost one for every 200 metres.

“At the moment there are only 46,” Kyprianou said.

He that that there should also be a law forcing hotel owners to hire lifeguards to man the beaches in front of their properties.

“They (hotel owners) are obliged to have lifeguards at their swimming pools but not on the beach,” Kyprianou said.

Lifeguards are hired by municipalities and they are currently facing financial difficulties, so a sound question would be how cash-strapped municipalities could find the extra funds needed for the extra hours or the extra distance.

Following the drowning of three people within a weekend last month, the Cyprus lifeguards’ association (CLA) had warned that the state should take immediate measures to expand lifeguard working hours.
“Legislation is needed to regulate swimmer safety, define public beaches, stipulate the equipment each beach should have and outline the qualifications and duties of professional lifeguards, as well as working hours,” read the statement.

According to the CLA, a legal amendment has been pending in the House since 2005.

There have also been calls to increase lifeguards’ working hours to cover early morning and late afternoon.

According to the head of the Paphos municipality beach committee, Andreas Chrysanthou, “extending the working hours is imperative to enable better supervision of busy beaches.”
Chrysanthou said that countless people choose to swim in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the sun’s strong rays, and lifeguard working hours should be extended for a further three hours a day.

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