Mumbai's lifeguards are drowning in poor work conditions. There are just 32 lifeguards to protect the six key beaches of the city, which are visited by a minimum of 1 lakh people per day. The footfall goes up to 10 lakh on the weekends and holidays. In these conditions, our lifeguards are understaffed and overworked.
It is not just manpower shortage that the lifeguards are up against. The lack of basic infrastructure and equipment, such as proper watchtowers, vehicles, binoculars and whistles, just makes it harder for these saviours to do their job.
It is one thing to cite a litany of shortcomings for lifeguards. What should we, as ordinary persons, do in such cases? With lifeguards already stretched thin at our beaches, we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to save our lives. Beachgoers and locals cannot whine about our woeful infra. Instead, they should firstly respect those that are stationed there to save lives. Watch out for the signboards at beaches citing safety rules. Do not be cavalier and dismiss these.
Listen to the lifeguards when they issue warnings about taking selfies in the water. This is a major cause for concern for lifeguards, who have related a number of near-tragic incidents when swimmers were too distracted by their cell phone.
There have been instances where people have argued with lifeguards, rewarding them with disrespect and outright defiance, when all they are trying to do is keep everyone safe.
Spare a thought for these professionals who are outnumbered hugely by the crowds. Take responsibility for your life and know your limits when enjoying the sand and sea. Lifeguards have enough and more on their plate, do not test them with your negligence and bad behaviour.
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