By Lois Jones

Photo: T. Ayuga

FOR the first time in the Balearics, the Red Cross are putting into action a prevention campaign entitled “Look after yourself well this Summer”.
The aim of the exercise is to offer advice to bathers to help them “prevent and detect” situations where they, and others, might be at risk during the summer months. “Use adequate protection against the sun, put cream on before leaving home, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, bathe in waters where there are other people about, don't go in to swim immediatley after a heavy meal, keep a special eye out for the children”, are just some of the recommendations included in a leaflet produced by The Red Cross to promote this campaign. Montserrate Carrió is the director of Preventive Services for the Red Cross in the Balearics.
She explained yesterday that these recommendations are adaptable to different types of beaches and are designed to link in closely with services offered by other public services such as the local Town Hall authorities or the police. This summer, The Red Cross will distribute a leaflet offering advice to bathers, as much on the beaches themselves as at health centres.
Carrió was joined at a Press conference by Gerardo Bonet who is the President of the Red Cross in the Balearics.
Bonet had attended to describe the security measures planned for the summer months, “which will vary according to the surface areas of the beaches and some coves”, commented Carrió. The personnel who go to make up these services comprise lifeguards who have had “adequate training and practice” and who work according to professional rules. Nevertheless, pointed out Carrió, the lifeguards also take part in voluntary auxiliary work, “one of the fundamental pillars of the institution”. Carrió spoke about the philosophy of the Red Cross in the future having to focus upon “intensification of prevention with larger resources in the coastal areas and also upon raising the profile of public awareness”. “Beaches are only dangerous because from time to time, due to many causes, a variety of risk factors combine”, assured Carrió, who at the same time reminded bathers “to be alert to these dangers”. Bathers didn't need to end up being afraid of the water but should “develop an appropriate respect for the beach”.
The director believes it is essential for the Red Cross in the Balearics to have the necessary material and technical support to ensure an “effective” safety campaign. It falls upon the training and preparation given to the lifeguards to make sure their service meets public need in terms of “efficiency and quality”. “The ideal situation would be that all beaches where there is concentrated use should have preventative safety measures in place and that these services should remain operational for a longer period of time during the year” Carrió advised, adding that it would be necessary to create an adequate framework of legislation. Currently 107 lifeguards work with The Red Cross in the Balearics.
Operating professionally, they are spread across 37 beaches. Additionally, over the whole summer season period, it is expected that some 230 volunteers will collaborate in auxiliary tasks. The organization boasts eight seagoing craft of its own, 21 lookout towers, 4 sea “ambulances”, 11 guards located on different beaches and five motorbikes donated by the Balearic government. Montserrate Carrió went on to warn that at the beginning of the summer holiday season, three deaths on Majorcan beaches had already been recorded, whilst the whole of the last year's season had only registered one death. The Red Cross director was anxious to emphasize that drowning was the result of a specific build-up of circumstances influenced by several factors such as “carelessness on the part of the bather, or currents”.