This week, Quintana Roo’s fire department sent firefighters to patrol some of the most popular beaches and highways in the Cancun region as part of a new Summer Operation. The patrols became necessary after a huge amount of tourists entered the state of Quintana Roo over the past month, with three and a half million international travellers projected to visit from July to August. Firefighters have been spotted on the beaches of Playa Delfines, Marlin, Chac Mool and Ballenas, as well as the Cancun-Merida and Cancun-Chetumal exits of Cancun’s main highway.
This programme is part of a wider initiative by the City Council of Benito Juarez, which aims to put protective measures in place for tourists and locals alike in the busy summer months of August. The council has highlighted road safety and beach safety as the most important issues but also acknowledges that authorities should prioritize surveillance of Kukulcán Boulevard (known as the main avenue in Cancun’s Hotel Zone).
Arturo Sosa, a member of staff responsible for dispatching Fire Services, stated the importance of maintaining road safety along tourist-frequented routes:
“The important issue is stopping the drivers and telling them to slow down in case we have a vehicle accident at certain points”.
The need for road safety has become increasingly prevalent this month after multiple roadworks were announced for some of the major highways in the state of Quintana Roo. Recently, the state government announced the maintenance of Boulevard Colosium, meaning drivers wishing to enter the road must seek an alternate route. One alternate suggestion given on the state website is the Highway 180, which connects the city of Merida with Cancun.
As there is an exit leading to Highway 180 on Cancun’s major highway, firefighters will be deployed in close proximity, to ease disruptions and explain delays to worried drivers. As an alternate route, there is bound to be an increased amount of traffic circulating through the area, so the presence of the firefighters should help dissipate some of the tension.
To ensure that tourists and residents of Cancun are able to travel safely along the main highways, firefighters will also remind drivers to check the condition of their vehicles during travel, as well as give directions towards diverted routes when needed.
Sosa also revealed that Quintana Roo’s Fire Department is currently working alongside six lifeguards on the four major beaches in Cancun, stating both teams have ‘already had several rescues. To decrease the chance of beachgoers drowning, lifeguards and firefighters alike have reminded tourists to not drink too much before swimming and to respect the safety flags on the beach that determine the sea’s condition.
This is especially important after multiple cases of tourists drowning have occurred in the past few months. In June, three bodies were retrieved from Cancun beaches in just four consecutive days, after being dragged out to sea due to aggressive rip currents. Despite red flags set up on the beach to warn swimmers of unsafe ocean conditions, some choose to ignore them, risking their lives in the process.
Rip currents are found along most of the beaches in the Mexican-Caribbean, defined as a narrow current of water that moves away from the shore and towards the open ocean. Rip currents are incredibly dangerous as they pull anything in their path towards the open ocean, increasing the risk of drowning. There is no doubt that the addition of firefighters on Cancun beaches will help lifeguards to spot potential rip currents and rescue more individuals at this busy time for tourism.
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