As the third World Drowning Prevention Day occurred on July 25, organizations and communities worldwide as well as the Hamad Injury Prevention Program of Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Hamad Trauma Center joined forces to raise awareness about the devastating consequences of drowning and to promote water safety measures. This important initiative serves as a reminder of the urgent need for collective action to prevent drowning incidents and save lives. Ms. Tsoler Sekayan, Program Coordinator of the HIPP, the community outreach arm of HMC’s Hamad Trauma Center, says ‘water safety is important for all ages, but especially for infants and toddlers. Drowning is a leading cause of injury death in children 1-4. Young children can drown in as little as an inch or two of water, and it can happen quickly and silently’.
Drowning is a silent epidemic that affects communities across the globe. Particularly vulnerable populations such as children. Worldwide, an estimated 236,000 people die from drowning every year, it is considered the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death globally and children, males and individuals with increased access to water are most at risk for drowning. In Qatar, as many as 25 residents die from drowning events every year; with 30% of them children. Children aged 10 years or under, especially those younger than four years, suffer the most severe physical and psychological long-term effects of these drowning events.
Toddlers are curious, active and eager to explore their surroundings and are attracted to water. But they don’t understand that water can be dangerous and aren’t old enough yet to do what is needed when in trouble. In addition, males are at a higher risk of drowning, with twice the overall mortality rate of females. They are more likely to be hospitalized than females for non-fatal drowning. Studies suggest that the higher drowning rates among males are due to increased exposure to water and riskier behavior such as swimming alone. So, it’s essential to protect them from water hazards where you live and where you visit.
Here are some recommendations that are proven to improve water safety at home for all families, especially those with young children:
- Always provide your undivided attention and supervision to kids when they are in or around water, regardless if it is the beach, pool and even during bath time. Young children can drown in as little as one inch of water and in complete silence, so it’s very important to keep them within an arm’s reach of an adult.
- Empty tubs, buckets, containers and kids’ pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.
- Close lids and doors.Keep toilet lids and doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed when not in use.
- Install fences around home or compound pools.A pool fence should surround all sides of the pool and be at least four feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates.
- When at the beach or pool, assign a responsible adult to watch all members of your group. This ‘watcher’ responsibility must be shared in shifts among adults, and it is proven to greatly reduce drowning in children.
- Ask older children, especially teens to have a companion when swimming and never swim alone so they can help or call for help when one is at risk.
- Educate children on water safety. Teach children about water safety rules, including the importance of not running near pools or other water bodies, not diving into shallow water, and not pushing others into the water.
- Learn CPRand basic water rescue skills. It is important to know how to respond in an emergency without putting yourself at risk.
- Call 999 for the ambulance service.