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Apr 17, 2014

Healthy Living has useful tips to stay safe if you plan to hit the water

Easter is here and within the next few days, thousands of Belizeans will travel to their favorite watering hole for some rest, relaxation and fun. One of the unfortunate side-effects of this four-day weekend is the number of traffic accidents and drowning incidents that take place. The Police Department has been proactive in warning motorists about the consequences of irresponsible driving and has provided tips to safeguard your property. So tonight on Healthy Living, we share some water safety tips for safe swimming.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

The process of drowning is quick and – unlike what you see in movies – it is also silent. On the plus side, it’s also one hundred percent preventable. It’s all a matter of keeping yourself and family safe when near water. Loyda Martinez is the Executive Director of the Belize Disaster and Rescue Response Team; they’re the people we all hope we’d never have to call but feel a bit safer knowing that they are available – just in case.


Loyda Martinez, Executive Director, BDARRT

Loyda Martinez

“BDARRT is a not for profit volunteer group we conduct search and rescue in different environments: cave, the jungle and water. We are currently including urban search and rescue as well.”


Martinez says a lot of people neglect to find out the very basics about the area they are visiting.


Loyda Martinez

“It’s very important to listen to weather reports, even inland. If it is going to rain because if its starts to rain, rivers tend to rise very rapidly, especially if it rains in the mountains. Sometimes it rains in the mountains and it doesn’t rain further down. That water comes down from the mountain and the river gets like a flash flood.”
Weather reports are also useful for those headed out to sea. Pay attention to boat cautions & warnings and even changes in tide.


Loyda Martinez

“Try not swim near the docks. If you happen to fall out of a boat, stay calm and don’t swim to the boat you want to be in an open area where they can see you and give you the assistance you need. If you see someone drowning and you’re not a good swimmer. Do not go in if you can get someone to go on a boat. Rescuing someone in the sea; it’s much more difficult than doing so in the water. So you want to get professional help in doing so. Rip current is a break in the wave and sometimes you get dragged into the open with it. So what you want to do is stay calm and swim parallel to shore.”


Do not swim against the current as this will tire you out quickly. Stay calm, stay afloat and try to get someone’s attention. In the case of rivers, Martinez stresses to pay attention to currents too.


Loyda Martinez

“You may have fast flowing water, the currents, it may not be visible but it is very strong. Two feet of water could sweep you away. Like I said before, know the area you’re going to listen to weather forecast. One of the things you can do is take a little twig and throw it into the water and depends on how its moving you can tell if the current is strong or not. A lot of people like to jump in head first into waters. That is very dangerous because you don’t know what is below. Of course you can knock your head into something. You want to know the area. Don’t jump in head first; feet first as always.”


If unfortunately you witness someone beginning to drown, Loyda has a bit of advice as a trained rescuer.


Loyda Martinez

“In the rescue world, we have what is called, reach throw go. Going is the absolutely last option that you have. The first thing that you do is reach for that person with a long stick or something. If that doesn’t work, you have rope, you throw it and you never tie yourself to a rope you are giving someone else that is a no-no. So you reach, you throw and then the last option is to go. Never approach that person in front, always approach from the back. If you so happen to have approached the person from the front you try to distract them; the first thing they’ll want to do is grab onto you, splash water in their face, turn them around grab them and swim them to shore.”


An even better option for families is getting trained in responding to emergencies.


Loyda Martinez

“Currently we are doing Saturday classes for first aid, so anyone who is interested can attend. It is free of charge. It will start the tenth of May. It is a basic first aid class and it will go of fro about a month and a half to two months in Belmopan.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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