Over 25 drowning cases reported every year in Qatar
It’s the onset of summer, and most of us are tempted to take a refreshing dip. But water safety is not to be taken lightly.
According to Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), there are 25-30 near-drowning and drowning patients who get admitted every year in the hospital’s Pediatric Emergency Centre. Out of these:
- 90% : children under 10 years of age.
- 80% : children were without adult supervision
- 70% : absence of proven safety precautions
- 60% : happened at home.
- 55% : children in the 1-4 age group
- 45% : had CPR performed at the scene
- 40% : were female
- 20% : happen in or near the sea
- 10% : of the victims did not survive
Here are some essential facts for every parent and swimmer in Qatar:
LOOK – contrary to popular belief and movies, when a child drowns it is not a noisy event. Oftentimes, their head will simply slip under and the next thing noted is a floating lifeless body.
Nothing works better to keep a child safe in the water than close, constant and capable adult supervision. ‘Close enough to touch’ is the dictum, especially with younger children in the bath, where as a little as five cm of water and immersion of a few minutes can lead to death or irreversible brain injury.
Any delay in rescue can have significant consequences. It is during lapses of supervision, i.e. during transferring location, phone calls or during snack or meal times that most incidents occur so the designated watcher must provide his/her undivided attention to the task at hand.
Providing supervision for a number of children in a pool or any body of water requires a sober, undistracted and capable adult, he/she must know how to swim, perform a rescue, initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and call for help. This is what a lifeguard is supposed to provide, if he/she is present.
LOCK – every pool or body of water that is left unsupervised must be enclosed with a fence that is at least four feet tall with a locked gate or access point. The same principle must apply for bathtubs, jacuzzi whirlpools, spas, buckets of water and even toilets if there are very young children in the house.
Regulating unsupervised access to potential risky bodies of water is a key element of water safety. The same goes for inflatable pools, if they are no longer going to be used for the day they must be emptied of all water and deflated.
LIFE PRESERVERS – or lifejackets, also called personal flotation devices or PFDs, are essential for every boat trip or prolonged exposure at water’s edge or proximity to bodies of water, especially for younger, non-swimming children. Inflatable armbands are not recommended as they may spontaneously deflate and are designed to keep a child’s arms, not his head, out of the water.
All PFDs must be size and weight appropriate, these specifications will be clearly marked on those that are certified or approved for use by children. Even the most expensive PFD is not a suitable substitute for constant adult supervision.
- Always swim with others.
- Always enter shallow or unfamiliar water feet first.
- Never go in the water after drinking alcohol.
- Obey all safety signs and warning flags.
- Know the water and weather conditions before getting in the water.
- Swim in areas with lifeguards.
LEARN – learning how to swim and water-safety survival skills saves lives for victims and allows would be watchers to be capable lifesavers. Learning CPR can also make a significant impact for survival of drowning victims as well as preservation of brain function in survivors.
LAWS – legislation is needed to require pool fencing and lifeguards for compound and community pools, PFDs for all passengers in boats and watercraft and include swimming and/or water-safety lessons in primary schools.
(The above data has been compiled from studies done by Dr Khalid A Alsaadi Alyafei, Senior Consultant and Fellowship Programme Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Pediatric Emergency Centre, HMC and published recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, SAFE KIDS Worldwide and the International Open Water Drowning Prevention Task Force.)
Courtesy: Trauma section, Department of Surgery, Hamad General Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation