PHUKET — It’s that time of the year when Utane Singsom looks out at the surf and sees trouble.
Every monsoon season, the red flags go out warning beachgoers to stay out of the turgid waters, and each year, the seasoned lifeguard said, they are ignored – sometimes to fatal effect.
“Some farangs, especially Russians, still really want to play in the water despite the beach closures,” Utane said. “My staff have to tell them ‘no’ in English, but we also have signs in five languages, including Russian, next to the flags.”
Extra foul weather Thursday has flooded Phuket city and residents should forget about swimming on any and all beaches for the next few days, said the chief of the Phuket Lifeguard Service.
All beaches across Phuket are closed until further notice due to strong winds, heavy rains and high waves.
“The weather is so bad right now. People cannot swim or play in the water at this time. Absolutely none,” Utanee, 42, chief of Phuket Lifeguard Service said Thursday afternoon.
There had been no injuries or casualties reported as of Thursday afternoon, and most residents have obeyed the beach closure, he said.
Indeed, the Phuket Lifeguard Service has closed all beaches across Phuket: Mai Kaow, Nai Yang, Nai Thorn, Bang Tao, Surin, Kamala, Patong, Karon, Kata and Nai Harn since 8:30am this morning. The beaches will remain closed all day and will only reopen when they are deemed safe.
Utane, who’s been a lifeguard almost 20 years, said his Phuket Lifeguard Service this past year has adopted an Australian system of training and warning flags, which he says works well with most foreigners.