The authorities of Lifesaving-Liberia, Incorporated have selected Mr. Brownie J. Samukai, Minister of National Defense, to serve as keynote speaker at a program marking this year's National Beach Safety Week, which begins November 24-29.
Alfred S. Jones, a retired Captain of the Armed Forces of Liberia who was previously assigned with the Liberian Coast Guard, is Lifesaving-Liberia's executive director. He said Minister Samukai will address a stakeholders conference that will follow the awareness campaign on November 28 at one of the local beaches under the theme, "A Call for Increased Efforts to Prevent the Risk of Drowning in Liberia." He said the exercise is to highlight the safety of the aquatic environment and its economic benefit to the government.
Lifesaving-Liberia, Inc. is a non-profit drowning prevention organization dedicated to improving water safety by working with aquatic recreational facilities, local communities, private and public schools as well as individuals at risk since 2010.
"Drowning is a serious threat to public health, because we have observed that hundreds of young citizens and foreign residents have died by drowning in Liberia every year especially at the commencement of the biggest summer beach season on November 29, the birth anniversary of the country's 18th President William V.S. Tubman," said the retired Captain.
Jones attributed the high rate of drowning to the proliferation of unsafe beaches operating in Monrovia and its environs. Currently, he said there are 52 of such beaches and 19 swimming pools operating in Monrovia and its surroundings without lifeguards or other safety measures. "This accounts for a significant number of drownings," he said.
Jones disclosed that a representative from the Department of Tourism at the Ministry of Information will be on hand to educate beach goers on some swimming methods, "just to reduce some of the personal risks in and around waters."
He said there is a stronger need for beach and water safety education for people who engage in aquatic recreation and other water-related activities to identify the risks associated with the water environment and take appropriate measures.
According to Jones, Lifesaving-Liberia, Inc. will formally launch the campaign on November 24, with hundreds of school children parading through the principal streets of Monrovia to one of the beaches where Minister Samukai is expected to serve as guest speaker. On November 25-27, there will be a community level awareness targeting six vulnerable communities including New Kru Town, Popo Beach, Doe Community, Battery Factory, Clara Town and West Point communities.
He said the event will be climaxed at one of the beaches with a series of activities including rescue and resuscitation demonstrations to be followed by a lifeguard recruitment exercise and the registration of kids and non-swimmers for swimming lessons.