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Water safety important in the festive season

Drowning is usually experienced during December as many people are on holiday and travel to locations which have rivers, beaches and swimming pools.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has noted with concern a high number of drownings, especially young people.

“We plead with everyone to be careful around water. Children should be supervised at swimming pools at both public places and households,” says Larry Crisp, public relations officer for the DWS.

Crisp says most drowning occurs due to inability to swim as well as panic in water.

“Drowning remains one of the top causes of unnatural childhood deaths in South Africa. For every child that perishes from drowning, five children involved in a near drowning experience are left with permanent brain damage. According to research, it takes only four minutes without oxygen for irreversible brain damage to occur,” says Crisp.

Drowning statistics indicate that every day more than one child dies due to drowning in South Africa.

The following are some of the safety rules to follow when near water:

  • Do not let children go near swimming pools without supervision.
  • Fishing should be done at a designated area and children must always be under adult supervision.
  • Do not walk or play on bridges or with gates near the canals.
  • Do not fetch water from rivers and canals.
  • Do not perform ritual practices along the rivers.
  • Report children playing near rivers.
  • Stay away from canal banks because they can be muddy and slippery.
  • Parents should always know the whereabouts of their children and warn them against playing in water.
  • People, including baby sitters, child minders and parents, are advised to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as it can prevent loss of life during emergencies.
  • A list of emergency numbers should also be kept at a visible area.

It is important to ensure safety at areas with water during summer.

“Let us all be safe this festive season,” says Crisp.

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