The WaterWise Academy is the educational initiative of the Sea Rescue, with a vision to proactively prevent drowning tragedies.
WaterWise changes the lives of children by giving water safety lessons, teaching peer rescue and basic CPR on the school premises at no charge.
According to the Medical Research Council those most at risk of drowning are children from poor communities – peri-urban and rural.
The highest incidence of drowning is in fresh water, farm dams and rivers.
Deaths from drowning in 2010 in South Africa numbered 1 428 (Medical Research Council 2009) which constitute 5% of non-natural deaths (29 768).
Many (almost half) of these fatalities are children and most occur in fresh water (rivers, dams, ponds, pools).
The rate of drowning in South Africa, 2.7/100 000 population, hasn't improved in the last ten years (2004).
The incidents of near misses often resulting in severe disability (brain damage from hypoxic injury) are probably several times this rate and at least double the number of fatal drowning.
The incidence of drowning increases with age being 1-2% of all causes of death in the 1-4 year age group, 2-5% in the 5 – 9 year age group and 3 – 8% in the 10 – 14 year age group although the greatest number of drowning occurs in the 1 – 4 year age group.
Boys (80%) outnumber girls in those succumbing to drowning. Most drowning occurs in the summer months and more than 40% of adults who drowned had positive blood alcohol levels.
Drowning from boating related incidents are one tenth those of drowning ashore.
The WaterWise Academy is the vehicle through which our education and advocacy is delivered and WaterWise has the potential to expand massively.
The current challenge is to source the funding to do so. We currently have ten full time Instructors and six volunteers in the Academy.
Since 2006 we have educated almost 500 000 children in water safety, teaching them how to avoid danger, what to do in an emergency, who to call for help, and how to start hands-on CPR while they wait for help to arrive.
Six of the WaterWise Academy Instructors are proudly sponsored by Transnet National Ports Authority ( TNPA). One, in Eden, is sponsored by the Department of Agriculture.