600 Children drown every year in South Africa
Pretoria – It’s summer again and temperatures are soaring and being around water is the best to be around this time of the year, but like every other action there are risks that come with water activities, specifically swimming. The National Sea Rescue Institute reports 600 children drowning every year. This article seeks to provide you with water safety tips to reduce the risk of drowning in any swimming environment:
- Learn and know CPR.
- Never leave children unsupervised near a pool, lake, river, or the ocean. Use touch supervision, which means always remain in arm’s reach of the child.
- Teach children to swim, although it does not prevent drowning, it does reduce any one’s chances of drowning.
- Fence off the pool areas and avoid fences that children can easily climb.
- Block pool and hot tub access using safety covers to access to pools and hot tubs.
- Do not leave toys in the water because a child might fall into the water trying to retrieve a toy.
- Keep emergency equipment close, equipment such as a life ring with a rope, reaching pole or shepherd’s crook.
- Encourage children to wear life jackets or to use floatation devices.
- Do not rely on floatation devices. If your child is a none-swimmer, encourage them to use a floatation device but remain in arm’s reach.
- Ignore your phone, it takes as long as five seconds of checking a text message for a child to submerge into water.
- Teach and emphasis water rules: No running; No diving in the shallow end; No pushing people in; No pulling other kids under the water; No swimming without adult supervision—ever.
Six children under the age of 12 were reported deceased on 22 – 23 November 2020 due to drowning. Three boys aged 11, 10, and 7 from Lutzville near Cape Town drowned while fishing after they decided to swim. All three boys died while trying to help their friend who had come into trouble. In Hamenskraal, Pretoria, two 10-year-old boys and a 9-year-old were found deceased in an incomplete storm water trench. This is after they used the barricades fencing of the storm water trench as floats to swim. The boys were found Saturday morning by bystanders.
According to Statistics South Africa, fatal drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death in the country. Children under the age of 15 years old account for 30.2% of all fatal drowning in the country with the highest mortality rate occurring in children under the age of 5 years old. In South Africa, drowning rates are highest among children between 0-4 years followed by 5-14 years.