Dubai: Dubai Police have warned beachgoers not to swim after sunset in the wake of three incidents of drownings so far this year.
The warning comes as part of an awareness campaign launched on Sunday to ensure safer beaches in Dubai as warm weather sets in.
Brigadier Abdullah Rashid Abdullah, director of Ports police station, said 29 people drowned at Dubai beaches in 2016 compared to 24 swimming fatalities in 2015.
Authorities want to curb the rise in drowning deaths by making people more aware of the dangers of unpredictable tidal behaviours and increased surf, especially as evening descends upon beaches, sharply reducing visibility.
“As summer has started, many people will go to the beach and we want all beach goers to be careful and not to swim after sunset as no lifeguards are on duty after sunset. People must follow safety procedure when they go to the beach. Don’t swim if you don’t have swimming skills,” Brig Abdullah told Gulf News.
The most recent drowning incident claimed the life of a man from Cameroon, who drowned off Mamzar beach in the early hours of Friday.
“He came to the beach riding a bicycle went for a swim leaving his clothes behind. Later, some people noticed him asking for help in the middle of the sea. Police rescue squad rushed to the spot as no lifeguards were on duty at that time and it was too dark there. By the time police squad reached there the man had drowned. We found his ID inside his clothes,” Brigadier Abdullah said.
Dubai police urged the beach goers to be careful especially after sunset as Dubai Municipality’s lifeguards only operate from sunrise to sunset.
“Part of the problem is that many beachgoers are not aware of safety measures while swimming on beaches. Our police patrols are always on the beach for any emergency but we need people’s cooperation to tackle the problem,” Brig Abdullah said.
But, he said, there are people who just don’t understand the dangers even after being close to death before. As strange as it may sound, a swimmer drowned after police had rescued him the same day in waters off a Dubai beach. After two policemen rescued him, the man returned to the water after some and drowned.
“We pulled him out of the sea twice but he insisted on swimming and finally drowned. It is related to people’s mentality and cultural background.”
During the awareness campaign police patrols will explain safety measures to beach-goers for one week. Police will also use social media platforms to tell public about the safety measures to be followed while swimming in the open beaches.
Police also warned swimmers against venturing into water when the red flag is raised during rough weather conditions.
When the yellow flag is raised, people should swim with caution and follow the lifeguards’ instructions.
Swimmers are also advised not to swim close to the rocks or outside the safe zone. In most of the open beaches in Dubai, areas for swimming have been marked through floating buoys and ropes. Swimming past these limits can invite trouble.
Check the weather and sea forecast
Follow the instructional signs posted along the beach
Swimming is prohibited when the red flag is raised
Watch your children at all times and don’t allow them to swim alone and without wearing life-jackets
Swim only in designated areas
Swimming is prohibited after sunset
Do not enter water if you don’t know how to swim
Call 999 for emergencies
Source: Dubai Police