The priority objectives of the Praia Saudável Programme are to contribute to increasing the safety and environmental quality of beaches, as well as accessibility for people with limited mobility, and to foster the development of a safety culture among swimmers. In its 12 years of existence, it has rescued 743 swimmers and given assistance to 1,220 people during the bathing seasons.
As part of the Praia Saudável Programme, a publicly available Communications Virtual Private Network (VPN) has been installed, through which lifeguards can be alerted to potential emergency situations. The VPN enables communications between the lifeguard posts and the port authorities, the Portuguese Lifeboat Institution (ISN), the national emergency numbers and other numbers identified as having a role in emergency situations. This network covers 268 lifeguard posts and over 700 contacts. Over 350,000 calls have already been made via the VPN.
The programme, promoted since 2005 by the Vodafone Portugal Foundation in partnership with the National Maritime Authority, the Portuguese Environment Agency, the National Institute for Rehabilitation and the European Blue Flag Association, currently covers 185 beaches in mainland Portugal and the Autonomous Regions.
Through the provision of equipment donated by the Vodafone Foundation in the areas of safety, accessibility and environmental management, together with the organisation of awareness-raising campaigns in these areas, the Praia Saudável Programme has been doing important work in terms of prevention, awareness and the creation of more inclusive beaches in Portuguese bathing areas.
The Praia Directo app, which supplies data on the weather conditions, water temperature, safety and accessibility of the beaches, provides information, for example, about the sun exposure risk throughout the day, showing the times when the UV index reaches maximum levels. Measurement of the parameters is performed in real time by autonomous monitoring stations powered by solar panels.
Some numbers from the 12 years of the programme:
Especially in the summer, beaches have a high risk of accidents, often due to disregard of safety rules, but there are also other important areas, such as pollution on beaches and lack of accessibility, which led to the Foundation Vodafone Portugal to back the expansion of the Praia Saudável Programme, in partnership with various organisation that have joined efforts in this Programme.