Bein HaZmanim, literally “between the times,” meaning the vacation weeks before Rosh Chodesh Elul when yeshiva students go back to their benches and gemoras, can be a dangerous time for religious Jews who love dipping in Israel’s northern lake, the Kinneret, but are not familiar with the risks involved.
The chapter head of United Hatzalah’s Tiberias and Kineret region, Yossi Oknin, said, “Our teams have already responded to numerous incidents of drowning on the Kineret this summer with one taking place earlier this week. These few weeks of the summer often see the highest rate of visitors to the lake and we encourage everyone to follow these precautions to stay safe.”
So here it is, United Hatzalah’s Safety List of Regulations to Prevent Drowning in the Kineret during Bein HaZmanim:
1. It’s important to only swim in permitted and authorized beaches and only during the hours when lifeguards are on duty.
2. Children who are swimming must be constantly supervised by parents or responsible adults who are close enough to be able to reach the child with an outstretched hand.
3. It’s imperative not to be using one’s cell phone when caring for a child who is near water.
4. While the Kineret is often thought of as a calm lake, the calmness of the water can be misleading due to significant changes in the water level and currents that take place at different times of the day. This is especially true for the western side of the lake where Tiberias is located. Extreme caution is required from the early afternoon hours until sunset when westerly winds are prevalent and cause a strong current that pulls swimmers and surfers towards the center of the Kineret. This also applies to adults who know how to swim as once caught in a current, it is incredibly difficult to escape it, and often swimmers and those using flotation devices are pulled out to the center of the lake with no ability to return.
4. In windy weather, the use of floatation devices (mattresses, rings, small plastic boats, etc.) should be avoided due to the risk of being swept away extremely quickly.
5. Do not enter the water after drinking intoxicating beverages or ingesting or injecting hallucinogens (you may want to avoid them even while away from the water).
6. If you see someone drowning or in distress in the water or on the beach, call emergency services for help immediately. If CPR is required, initiate CPR until emergency services arrive at the scene. Try to locate the nearest defibrillator and have it brought to the patient. Remember to dry off the patient and move them to a dry place before using the device.
Oknin concluded his list by saying, “Our teams will be on the water safeguarding visitors to the lake throughout the summer. With the help of the public, we hope to get through the summer safely and without any major incidents.”