PHUKET: In an effort to minimize the number of drowning deaths in Phuket this monsoon season, the Tourist Police today began distribution of some 10,000 handbills warning beachgoers about the dangers of rip currents — and what to do if caught in one.
Garry Halpin, a Tourist Police volunteer from New Zealand, told the Phuket Gazette that the handbills will be given out to people at beaches with the most drowning deaths.
These include Kata, Nai Harn, Patong and the deadliest of all: Karon.
The project, sponsored by Raya Divers, is the first of its kind in Phuket, he said.
The Tourist Police agreed with the idea, which was put forward by the volunteers after so many drowning deaths were recorded at Phuket beaches over the last monsoon season.
The English-language handbills explain clearly in pictures and in words how rip currents form and why it is imperative not to panic if caught up in one.
The best way out of a riptide is to swim parallel to the beach, not towards it, he said.
Remaining calm and not fighting waves and currents are the keys to survival, he added.
Asked if there had been any effort to get airline pilots to warn inbound tourists about the potential dangers of riptides, as has repeatedly been urged by the Phuket Gazette, Mr Halpin said he would pass it on to Tourist Police officers.
— Atchaa Khamlo