When the summer monsoons arrive, our coastal waters become extremely rough and dangerous as the winds travel across the seas and blow inland. The average levels of the high tide also increase. The most dangerous beaches from May to September are Cape Montze, Kanupp Point, Manora, Sandspit Zone 1 and Sandspit Zone 2. They become dangerous because of rip currents, which are the number one cause of drowning.
Watch out for rip currents
A rip current or tide is a strong, narrow surface current that flows rapidly away from the shore. They form when excess water accumulated along a shore due to wind and waves rushes back suddenly to deeper waters. You can drown if you try to swim directly back to the shoreline.
• Relax, float and attract attention: Sometimes, rip currents can flow in a circular pattern which will return you back to the sandbank where you can stand up.
• Escape the rip current, by swimming parallel to the beach towards the breaking waves.
Your PALS at the beach
An estimated 2m people visit Karachi’s beaches every year and unfortunately about 250 people lose their lives there as well. To control this high drowning rate, Pakistan Life Saving (PALS) was created in 2004. It is a registered NGO and represents Pakistan in the International Life Saving Federation
Pakistan Life Saving Foundation
Command & Control Center: N-69, Kakapir Village, Mauripur,
Sandspit Hawkesbay Road, Karachi.
Helpline: 0300 356 2000
Bluebottles or the Portuguese man o’ war
Bluebottles commonly washing up on Karachi shores, during the onset of the monsoon season. Their tentacles will cause a sharp, painful sting if they are touched. Rubbing the spot makes it worse. The Portuguese man o’ war is often confused with jellyfish. Their venom differs.
Treatment for bluebottle sting
For bluebottle stings, immerse the area in warm water (45°C) for 20 minutes.
Do not use vinegar.
Do not apply fresh water as this will activate the stingers.
For all stings except those caused by bluebottles, apply cool compresses to the spot.
Urine is not a recommended treatment for a jellyfish or a bluebottle sting.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 5th, 2013.
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