Statistics in the middle of the season show that 191 people have died in the summer waters of the Greek Mediterranean Sea from the beginning of June until today. 85% of victims were Greek residents and 15% were foreign tourists. The majority are elderly people with chronic health problems but the sad statistics also include ordinary active tourists who did not comply with the rules of safety during their sea vacation. GRReporter contacted Nicholas Yovanidis, who is the head of the national academy, training lifeguards. He agreed to explain what the major risks during sea holidays are and what rules holidaymakers must observe to avoid fatal accidents.
Lifeguards advise holidaymakers at seaside resorts to never enter the sea after eating. "You may go swimming about three hours after your last meal," Yovanidis said. Furthermore, you should not go to the beach if you feel hungry. If you feel hungry, weak or lacking in strength, you should not stay in the strong summer sun, nor should you go into the water. Lifeguards warn that tourists are forbidden to swim if they have consumed alcohol. This is one of the most common causes of drowning in people of working age. However, the elderly and children remain most vulnerable at the sea. "We advise elderly people and young children to go to the beach either early in the morning, or in the afternoon. The sun is gentler at that time of the day and the danger of overheating and other adverse effects is lower. "
The most common victims of the sea are the elderly. "The majority of accidents occur in elderly people with health problems. So, swimmers and holidaymakers must comply with the limits in the water set by lifeguards. You should not go deep into the sea. If a person decides to swim a little further, he or she should thoroughly assess the distance so that he or she can remain strong enough to return to the shore." As for tourists coming to Greece from countries without a sea and swimming culture, lifeguards insist that they should visit regulated beaches with lifeguards.
"You should never dive in waters that are turbid or the bottom of which you cannot see. These cases end most often in injuries that can be very serious," Yovanidis warns. He explained that children often become victims of the sea too, if their parents are not careful while on the beach. "All parents should know that inflatable belts for children cannot always prevent an accident." Another complication in children according to the specialist is that in case of drowning, small children cannot react and warn of the danger. They are silent drowned people. They do not shout nor do they wave their hands for help. "So, parents should be very careful, because most accidents happen seven metres away from the beginning of the wave."
According to Yovanidis, fatal accidents this year have been less in number than in the same period last year. He stressed that now is the peak season in Greece and the final data for summer 2012 will be released early in October. "Each life is precious and irreplaceable but unfortunately, there is no summer without unpleasant incidents. Greece is a tourist country with sixteen thousand metres of sea, of which two thousand kilometres are beaches. If people follow the rules for summer holidays and do not take risks, incidents will be even less," the head of the academy for training lifeguards said in conclusion.