Connect with us


Phuket Opinion: Saving swimmers by keeping them out of the sea

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Phang Nga native Uten Singsom, 37, has been working as a lifeguard for 14 years, first at Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort in Patong and for the past three years on Karon Beach. Today, he is the head of the Kata-Karon Lifeguard Club. Here he talks about what government and hotels should do to make Phuket beaches safer and stop tourists from drowning.

PHUKET: It should be illegal to swim when red flags are posted, and hotels should warn their guests clearly about the dangers of the sea during the low season.

When there is dangerous surf, we post red flags along the beach to warn swimmers, but many of them ignore the flags. Many times when we try to stop them from going into the sea when it is dangerous, they swear at us. Sometimes they even hit my staff.

The authorities should take action against people who do not listen to us. They should fine people who do not obey the rules that are in place to save their lives.

Hotels and resorts should post signs in their lobbies or hotel rooms to warn guests not to swim during the southwest monsoon. I suggested this idea to some hotels, but most of them disagreed. They worried it would chase their guests away.

I understand that they’re looking at it from a business point of view – and I also understand that a big dream of many tourists who visit Phuket is to swim at our beautiful beaches. But as a lifeguard, I would say that if they come here to die, it’s better not to come.

We don’t have the authority to stop people from going into the water. We need help with this. We have enough stress in our job without having to fight with people who won’t listen to us.

We’re under incredible pressure when we rescue swimmers. I always try my best to save them. Even when they disappear in the water, I feel I have to find them. Whether they are alive or dead, I will not leave them in the water. If they die at sea, I want to at least return their body to the shore.

About two years ago, I rescued a German man by pulling him out of a rip current. It was scary and I almost died.

My friend and I took a jet-ski out to rescue him. The waves were really strong. As we arrived near him, I jumped off the jet-ski and stuck the rescue float under his chest. I tried pulling him out of the strong waves in a safer direction.

He was big and heavy and had been hit so many times by the waves before I got to him that he was exhausted and about to pass out. I asked him to help me swim and tried to go under the waves with him to avoid being hit, but he was too scared and too tired. I had to pull him all the way with my own strength.

The waves hit me again and again and pulled him and me in the wrong direction. I was choking on sea water and felt exhausted. I felt like I couldn’t hold on anymore.

At that moment, I even thought about leaving him and swimming away alone, but a voice in my head told me to try again and I finally made it.

After we got out of the rip current, my friend picked us both up with the jet-ski and took us safely back to shore.

In some cases, after getting people back to shore, I have to do CPR. This part is also stressful because their lives are in my hands. I really want to save them, I want them to survive.

Sometimes as I am about to do CPR, a family member of the person I pulled out of the water comes and says to me tearfully, “Please save my son. Please do not let him die.” That puts more pressure on me and makes me very sad if finally I can’t save the person.

The last time I did CPR was on June 23, on an Indian tourist named Ramesh Chand Singhal, who was pronounced dead on arrival at Patong Hospital. That day I went home feeling so depressed.

We do everything in our power to help swimmers in trouble. We would like the authorities to keep them from getting in the water in the first place, when the surf is dangerous.

— Orawin Narabal


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Tourism7 mins ago

Airports of Thailand president says tourism won’t pick back up until October

Thailand18 mins ago

Mobile sterilisation/vaccination truck helps Pattaya’s cats and dogs

Coronavirus (Covid-19)52 mins ago

4 marijuana strains to be become National Heritages, possibly help effects of Covid

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Thailand1 hour ago

Ministry of Defence orders another Airbus C295 for the Royal Thai Army

Hong Kong2 hours ago

Hong Kong may reduce quarantine for vaccinated residents returning from Singapore, UK

Thailand2 hours ago

Crocodiles escape from farm in Trat

Protests2 hours ago

Bangkok police prepare for pro-democracy rallies on Thursday

Phuket2 hours ago

Restrictions loosen in Phuket, alcohol allowed in restaurants

Tourism2 hours ago

TAT thinking up ways quarantine might be relaxed for tourists returning from Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 4,059 new cases and 35 deaths

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Third vaccine shot may be necessary to combat Delta variant

South3 hours ago

South hit by 402 cases of Beta variant

Coronavirus (Covid-19)18 hours ago

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to be donated to Thailand from Japan

Bangkok18 hours ago

Bangkok police warn that protests planned for Thursday break the Emergency Decree

Thailand18 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Hotel occupancy, Phuket beaches hit with tar balls, doctor ‘warning’ | June 21

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8