Saving a life in 20 seconds
Take a deep breath. Now hold your breath and count slowly upto twenty. Difficult? Its actually less than that amount of time for a child to drown if left unattended in a swimming pool or water body. In fact, a child need not even be left alone in a pool or by the beach.
She or he can have a life-threatening accident in full view of other people if the parents or guardians are not alert or if there is no trained lifeguard to rescue the child. It requires us all to follow three simple rules when it comes to prevention of drowning accidents: always insist on a pool or water body with a lifeguard, if you are not accompanying your child into the water or cannot swim yourself ; children below five must always be within arm’s reach of the adult carer in the water; children under 10 must be clearly visible at all times when in the water.
This also includes inflatable paddling pools and bathtubs. This is particularly relevant today when adults tend to get busy with their phones when minding kids. This is not just about children either. In a society like ours where people come from different countries and backgrounds, many adults also put themselves at risk by venturing to swim when they cannot manage anything beyond a basic shallow - water wiggle.
Now that summer is here in full blast, one of the unintended silver linings of the pandemic is that we have not heard the usual litany of sad accidents in swimming pools and on beaches. With parents keeping their children away from water bodies because of the COVID-19 health crisis, there has been at least a temporary halt to needless water accidents.
Of course this is not a solution and one good way to tackle unnecessary drowning is to ensure that all children and adults are taught basic water survival skills – at least the doggy paddle that will keep them afloat till help arrives. Further, as a country where so many villas, highrise apartment blocks and hotels have swimming pools, we must ensure that they are monitored by a trained lifeguard and also CCTV camera linked to a nearby security post.