mid-day editorial: 'Tis the season to be cautious

Yesterday, two stories brought home what is an unfortunate reality of the Mumbai monsoon — deaths due to drowning.

A report in this newspaper yesterday stated that two teenaged boys were saved from drowning at Aksa Beach on Sunday evening. In fact, Aksa is an infamous drowning spot, with three college students having lost their lives there just this May. On Sunday, Siddhartha and Sudhir Brahmabat were wading in low waters but got swept in because of the tide. Lifeguards spotted them and they were rescued from a beach that has witnessed several tragedies in the past.

Two others were not so fortunate though. A man was rescued from Shivaji Lake in Bhandup on Sunday but was declared dead on arrival at the Mulund General Hospital. Another man drowned in a creek in the Pestom Sagar area and was taken to Rajawadi Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Pictures show us youngsters prancing along slick parapets at Marine Drive and Worli, enjoying the waves. While that is certainly not taboo, they must watch out for slippery surfaces, account for the force of the water. On beaches, especially, they must heed warnings. Both verbal warnings from lifeguards and caution signboards often go ignored.

Locals cite any number of instances when they warn swimmers not to be overconfident of their prowess or underestimate the strength of the waters. Yet, they are ignored, laughed at and, at times, at the receiving end of acrimonious retorts from revellers. Lifeguards have also stated the challenges they face simply trying to convince people to stay out of the water, or stick to the shallow part.

That said, our rescue services also need to up the ante. Better communication measures, state-of-the-art equipment and quicker access to medical facilities are key for the success of rescue operations. There is a dual responsibility on the authorities and the swimmers to keep themselves safe.

’Tis the season to be cautious, and steer clear of foolhardy stunts in water.

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