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Drowning and Beach-Safety Management (BSM) along the Mediterranean Beaches of Israel: A Long-Term Perspective

Daniel Hartmann
Journal of Coastal Research
Vol. 22, No. 6 (Nov., 2006), pp. 1505-1514
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30138414
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Drowning and Beach-Safety Management (BSM) along the Mediterranean Beaches of Israel: A Long-Term Perspective
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Abstract

Along the 190 km of the Israeli Mediterranean coast, of which only about two-thirds is accessible to bathing activities, there are about 100 statutory surf bathing beaches guarded by professional sea lifeguards. The rest of the accessible Israeli Mediterranean coastline is divided into two additional legal categories, which are not guarded: (A) beaches where bathing is forbidden by governmental ordinance because they are too dangerous. (B) Beaches where swimming is freely permitted but not guarded. The estimated number of drowning victims in the Israeli Mediterranean surf since 1948 is about 2200. Reported drowning data show that, since 1973, the number of drownings in the surf has been about 1200 victims. There are almost no drownings reported within the perimeters of the official guarded beaches. The Israeli Mediterranean relative drowning number (RDN) in the surf per million inhabitants reveals for the last 32 years a long-term quasi-stable average of 8.1 and a SD of 2.7. The estimated average number of drownings for the present population would be about 56 victims. The Israeli RDN is higher than that of other Mediterranean countries and probably of other beaches in the world. In this article, I study the Israeli beach-safety management (BSM) schemes and identify and examine the various long-term and short-term temporal variations in drowning patterns, some demographic patterns leading to the identification of some risk groups and some other human, cultural, and managerial factors that seem to be typical for Israeli beaches and relate them to the drowning statistics. The high drowning figures in Israel seem to reflect both the meteorological and oceanographic conditions of Israel's Mediterranean coast and the BSM schemes. I suggest that Israeli RDN can, however, be reduced by proper modern scientific and managerial approach.

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