In preparation on the sea bathing season 2010, the Civil Protection Directorate of the Algiers province organized a series of “information days” on the possible risks linked to sea-bathing in the crowded beaches of the Algerian capital. “These information days – said commandant Kettab Azzedine of the Civil Protection Directorate – aim to raise the awareness of sea bathers on the possible dangers of bathing and to reduce the number of drowning deaths occurring each summer in the Algiers province”.
The “information days” initiative is a part of a wider prevention and awareness campaign launched during 2010 by the Algiers Civil Protection Directorate. “ We already organized “information days” and “open doors” events in schools, universities and cultural centres, as well as awareness campaigns on the media. Yet, these information days on the beaches are different as we work in direct contact with the sea bathers to teach them how to prevent possible risks and be prepared to face the dangers that they may encounter on the beaches – said lieutenant Sofiane Bakhti, head of the statistics office and communication officer of the Algiers province Civil Protection.
During the “information days”, around thirty officials, officers and doctors of the Civil Protection carefully explained to the sea bathers how to avoid risky behaviors which may lead to drowning. Those behaviors include diving into the sea after long sunbathing (immersion hypothermia and thermal shock), sunstrokes - which are particularly frequent between 12:00 and 16:00 -, sea bathing after a heavy meal, or during the night or after making important physical efforts. Flyers with the basic rules for proper sea bathing and the instructions to be followed in the event of an accident were distributed to the participants to the information days. “We must first of all spread the word on the existence of these risks because most of the sea bathers do not know them at all. - Lieutenant Bakhti said -. Through these actions we aim to build a widespread prevention culture also with the help of the participants who are invited to further disseminate the message to their relatives and friends.
The first results of this initiative are very encouraging. “During June and July 2010, the number of drowning victims in the beaches of the Algerian capital – lieutenant Bakhti indicated - decreased of 50% compared to 2009. Of the 5 persons who died, one drowned in a beach where bathing was not allowed and the other four drowned in beaches where bathing assistance was not available”. Civil Protection agents are present on daily basis on all the 59 beaches of the Algiers province. In the first two months of the 2010 sea bathing seasons they made 2911 intervention which allowed to save the life of 1395 sea bathers and to help 1470 others.
Unfortunately, at national level the number of drowning victims is still very high in Algeria. Sources from the Civil Protection indicate that 77 people drowned in the sea and 69 people drowned in rivers and water reservoirs during June and July 2010. Among the 77 people who drowned in the sea, 49 drowned in places where sea bathing was forbidden – lieutenant Nassim Bernaoui of the communication Department of the General Civil Protection Directorate declared to the newspaper “L’Expression”.
The higher numbers of drowning victims were recorded in the provinces of Oran and Skikda (13 victims each) followed by the province of Mostaganem. More than 60 millions sea bathers visited the Algerian beaches during the first two months of summer 2010. During the same period the Algerian Civil Protection made 34.883 interventions saving the life of 19.148 people and helping more than 13.000 others.