Every year during the summer, United Hatzalah volunteers respond to hundreds of water-related emergencies during the summer weeks of bein hazmanim (between the fast of Tisha B'Av and the first day of the Jewish month of Elul).
As the height of summer vacation begins, with almost all schools and institutions on seasonal break, United Hatzalah is issuing some safety instructions related to water safety. United Hatzalah urges the public to follow a few simple rules and guidelines, and by doing so, avoid a possible disaster such as drowning.
Swimming is permitted only in the areas around declared beaches, exclusively during lifeguarding and rescue service hours.
Children must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult while swimming or even playing near the water.
Pay attention to deep steps and height changes on and near beaches.
On the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), be cautious of the undercurrent that pulls swimmers away from the western shore (Tiberias side) and out into the lake. Swimming against this current can be very tiring and may cause swimmers to tire and drown.
On all beaches, be cautious of strong winds, from the early afternoon hours to the evening hours and sunset. These strong winds produce strong currents that can pull swimmers away from the beach.
Be wary of strong currents while using inflatable devices such as tubes and beds. It can be a matter of minutes until one is carried far away from the shore.
Drowning can happen anywhere, especially with small children. Parents, please be extra careful with watching children around any body of water, be it a pond, a bucket of water, a bathtub, a pool, or a beach. Please do not use cell phones when children under your care are in the water.
If you stumble upon a medical emergency either drowning or otherwise, call 1221 for help. In a CPR emergency, begin chest compressions until the arrival of medical aid services.
These tips were written In light of the many requests for assistance from United Hatzalah's maritime rescue team on the Kinneret that take place each year. The organization's rescue team, which includes two boats that are in service during daytime hours from April until October, has been active for the past 14 years. The tips apply to swimming on the Kinneret as well as other beaches across the country.