Drownings claim the lives of almost 236,000 people every year. Thus, the World Health Organisation has declared the 25th of July as World Drowning Prevention Day. Dr Jill Fortuin, the executive Director of Drowning Prevention at the NSRI says, “(drowning) is one of the leading causes of death globally for children and young people ages 1 – 24 years and the third leading cause of injury-related deaths overall.”

 

Do One Thing

This year, the theme of World Drowning Prevention day is encouraging the global community to “do one thing” to prevent drownings:

  • Governments – develop new prevention legislation. Hold parliamentary discussions on solutions, and commit to supporting drowning prevention efforts.
  • Groups – share water safety information, and launch campaigns. Develop new drowning prevention programmes.
  • People – share water safety advice with friends, families and colleagues. Sign up for swimming lessons. Show support for local drowning prevention groups.

The WHO also recommends six prevention measures: “installing barriers controlling access to water; training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation; teaching school-aged children basic swimming and water safety skills; providing supervised daycare for children; setting and enforcing safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations; and improving flood risk management.“

World Drownings Prevention Day

 

READ MORE: NSRI launches first Survival Swimming Centre in Riebeek Kasteel

In South Africa, there are approximately 1,500 fatal drownings annually – a third of those are children under 14 years.

“Most drownings are preventable, and we need to do even more to have fewer of these tragedies. Thank you to all stakeholders who work to save lives in this regard,” Anton Bredell, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning said. The local Government has financially supported Lifesaving WC and the NSRI with an annual grant of R376,000 to each organisation, “the impact of lives lost on families and communities cannot be measured, and neither can the effects of non-fatal drowning which may cause lifelong disabilities in victims.”

Bredell adds that it is the responsibility of all to prevent drowning in the country – and to support organisations “who work to keep us safe when we are close to (the) water”.

Remain cautious

Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia van der Ross says a larger portion of fatal drowning occur in the Western Cape during the warmers seasons, with almost half of these fatalities taking place over weekends and public holidays.

Eight beaches are known as drowning hotspots:

  • Table View
  • Milnerton Lagoon Beach
  • Sea Point
  • Between Clifton 1st and 3rd beach
  • Glen Beach
  • Strand Deep Blue and Jetty
  • Wolfgat Nature Reserve
  • Kogel Bay Dappat se Gat

Van der Ross reminds beachgoers to only swim where there are lifeguards and where signs indicate it is safe to do so. ‘Always supervise children near water, dressing them in bright colours to make sure that lifeguards can see them in the water. Remember that the best form of supervision is to be engaged with young children in the water when at play, rather than watching from a distance, which leaves them at risk.’