KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 2016 : The frequent cases of children drowning at places of water recreation during the school holidays have become a serious matter that demands intervention.
Since schools closed for the year-end holidays on Nov 25, there have been six cases of drowning which claimed eight lives in several places in the country.
Expressing concern, Water Activity Safety Council member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye produced statistics to illustrate the seriousness of the situation.
The social activist said data compiled by the Department of Statistics show that an average of 596 cases of drowning have occurred every year between 2009 and 2013.
They also indicate that almost half of the victims of drowning during that period were aged between five and 14, he said to Bernama.
And that’s not all. Lee quoted statistics with the Fire and Rescue Department showing that an average of 700 people drown every year in the country, particularly at places popular for water recreation and picnics.
So, what can be done to prevent these incidents or at least reduce their number?
Lee suggested intensifying awareness campaigns. He also said that the authorities and parents must play their roles as well.
“During the school holidays, there must be stepped-up monitoring of water recreation activities, especially at places frequented by families with children.
“The authorities must conduct checks at all recreational areas under their jurisdiction to ensure they are well-maintained in terms of public safety,” he said.
He said the authorities must notify the public of unsafe spots at the recreational places through clearly visible warning signs.
Lee said several factors led to drowning, among them unrestricted access at water recreation places, lack of preparation prior to venturing into the river or sea, not knowing the water conditions, ignorance and failure to understand
the danger when in water.
Other contributory factors were the absence of constant visual supervision as well as lack of awareness and education on safety in water and the inability to save oneself and others during a misadventure.
Lee said the Water Activity Safety Council set up in May had drawn up a five year (2016-2020) action plan to encourage and step up water safety awareness in the public while coordinating the compilation of data on drowning cases in the
The council would focus the awareness programme not only on school children but also parents and guardians to enable them supervise their children at water recreation places, he said. – Bernama