How safe are our swimming pools and theme parks? — Amar Singh HSS and Kavita Jetly

OCTOBER 11 — The Perak Clinical Research Centre of the Ministry of Health has conducted extensive research on drowning in children over many years. Five hundered children drown every year in Malaysia and this is the second commonest cause of death in Malaysian children aged 1 to 18.

This year we have obtained support from MOH to establish a National Registry on Drowning in Children with a view to identify areas we can work on in terms of prevention. We would like to share one immediate area of concern that has emerged from the data.

From January to September 2017 there have been at least 31 childhood drowning events in swimming pools and theme parks. They have been reported from all over the country with larger numbers from Selangor, Kedah and Pahang.

The drownings have occurred in hotel swimming pools and water theme parks. The children were aged two to nine years, with 75 per cent under five years of age.

These drowning events could have been prevented by better vigilance and adequate safety measures. Steps that need to be taken to prevent drowning include:

  1. No child should be unsupervised in or near any body of water. This rule needs to be enforced at especially at swimming pools and theme parks. No child should be allowed into the water without an accompanying adult.
  2. Adequate numbers of trained life guards must be available at all swimming pools and theme parks whenever they are operational.
  3. Children under five years should routinely be offered life guard approved flotation devices.
  4. All swimming pools should have fencing around all four sides to prevent accidently entry by a young child.
  5. Finally teaching children to swim has been found to reduce drowning occurrence.

With the end of year school holidays just around the corner, we would appeal to parents, hotel managers and theme park administrators to increase their vigilance and review safety measures to prevent further drowning in children.

It is tragic for a young child to lose their life or be brain damaged by drowning when involved in a recreational activity.

* Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS is head of Clinical Research Centre Perak and Dr Kavita Jetly is medical officer (research) of Clinical Research Centre Perak.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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