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Let Phuket Rip: No Action As Drownings Mount

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I plucked this out of the Phuketwan web site. You have to wonder about all this delay and negative media press, yet the local authorities can't get their a** into gear. Now we are full swing into the high season, not much rip, not much chance of drownings, so the old mai pen rai attitude prevails. Just wait till next May, then the drownings stats will grow,

Let Phuket Rip: No Action As Drownings Mount

By Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian

Friday, January 8, 2010

THE Phuket Provincial Administative Organisation is calling for tenders for professional lifeguards on the island's most popular tourist beaches.

Because the organisation has to follow Thai regulations in seeking someone to operate the service, the island's beaches have been without lifeguards since mid-November.

At least one young Thai boy has died on a beach without lifeguards in that period.

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Online applications for tender for the lifeguards close on January 13. On January 29, the tenders will be reviewed.

If there are no applicants, as is the situation at present, the tender process will be extended by 10 days each time until there is an applicant.

Ayut Banglung, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the organisation, said: ''We have had no applications so far and we are required by law to follow a set process.''

He said the local tessaban councils should be providing safety protection on the beaches in the period until a new professional service is in place.

Equipment for beach rescues, including surfboards and inflatable boats, has also been taken from the beaches because its removal is consistent with Thai law. Even the red warning flags have been repossessed.

Local beach people on Phuket are mostly horrified at the lack of protection for tourists and residents alike. While some people are capable of advising when and where to swim, they have no rescue equipment.

A 10-year-old boy became Phuket's first beach fatality of 2010 when he drowned at Nai Harn beach on the New Year's Day holiday while on a family picnic. An eight-year-old boy narrowly avoided the same fate.

Drownings for the island for 2009 reflect the high toll in the water, which is now dramatically out of proportion to the road toll.

To the end of November, Phuket had 137 road fatalities and 53 drownings, figures totally out of kilter when the numbers who use the roads are compared with those who swim or work on the water.

Several of the victims were tourists caught in strong ''rips.'' In some cases, family members have called for tourists to boycott Phuket or for government travel warnings until beach safety becomes a priority, especially during the dangerous monsoon season.

Australia's much-admired lifesaver system evolved after a tragic day at a beach when four children from the same family drowned. The family, on a picnic outing, wrongly believed that the beach was protected by lifeguards.

News source ----> http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phuket-rip-action-drownings-mount-12004/

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The family, on a picnic outing, wrongly believed that the beach was protected by lifeguards.

A couple of comments (and, yes, I realize the quote is not the poster's but from a news story):

1. The family "believed" the beach had lifeguards? If I'm the parent of a kid under 14-15, I'm not presuming anything - and, lifeguards or no lifeguards, the kid is going to be watched like a hawk by myself or some other responsible adult (especially if it's a beach in "need of" lifeguards.

2. I'm from a tourist town in northern Michigan that has a few public beaches on Lake Michigan. It's been as issue as long as I remember as to whether our dinky city will or won't hire lifeguards. From one camp comes the belief that the lifeguards ought to be there to watch and babysit the kids (kids, by the way, that shouldn't be there without adequate adult supervision in the first place - at least in my view). The other camp looks at other issues such as the cost of the lifeguards, the complacency it causes to some parents simply by having lifeguard there, the problem that lifeguards can't prevent all accidents or drownings and the the lawsuit problem (under Michigan law, the municipality isn't liable if no lifeguards are there whereas the city might be liable if lifeguards are in place).

Frankly, there is no way that Phuket Island can hire enough lifeguards to patrol all the beaches - even presuming that they had the money to do so. I'd vote for a simple solution - erect tasteful signs in some locations that simply tell blind parents that there are no lifeguards on any of the beaches and they, the parents, ought to be sure that their children are properly attended while in the water. These signs shouldn't be needed at all - and I'd also bet that irresponsible parents wouldn't read or pay attention to them anyway.

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Which are the dangerous beaches and are certain times of the year more dangerous than others?

I'm not sure....but it would seem a responsible thing for the hotels/resorts to advise their guests about that issue...especially if there's a rather dangerous section right near their establishment.

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but it would seem a responsible thing for the hotels/resorts to advise their guests about that issue...especially if there's a rather dangerous section right near their establishment.

Absolutely, but perhaps they don't want to give the guests a heads up that their hotel is in an undesirable location.

Profits over people.

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Absolutely, but perhaps they don't want to give the guests a heads up that their hotel is in an undesirable location.

Profits over people.

Yes, that's what I think. No way they will want to make potential guests know that their hotel is in a 'bad' location.

Most drowning deaths happen during the monsoon season (May to November), and that's another thing that hotels and tourist organisations don't want to highlight. Over the years they have tried to negate the image of monsoon or rainy season by calling it green or low season.

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Wondering if you mean about 75% or closer to 95%?

Don't have a figure, I would guess more than 75%. During the monsoon months there can be as as many as 4 (or more) drowning in a 'bad' month.

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