GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), is advising parents and guardians to be vigilant when their children are at the beach swimming or at the swimming pool during the school holiday season.
Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for seven per cent of all injury-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO adds that there are an estimated 360,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide; Global estimates may significantly underestimate the actual public health problem related to drowning. Children, males and individuals with increased access to water are most at risk of drowning.
The WHO defines drowning as the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid; outcomes are classified as death, morbidity and no morbidity.
The WHO says that the Global report on drowning (2014) shows that age is one of the major risk factors for drowning; “This relationship is often associated with a lapse in supervision.
“Globally, the highest drowning rates are among children 1–4 years, followed by children 5–9 years. In the WHO Western Pacific Region children aged 5–14 years die more frequently from drowning than any other cause,” according to WHO information.
There are several actions that can be taken to prevent drowning. Covering cisterns/wells, using doorway barriers and playpens, fencing swimming pools; do not have wash tubs or buckets open with water etc. are just some examples on what measures can be taken.
Teaching school-age children basic swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills are approaches that can be undertaken to prevent drowning, and always ensure supervision by a responsible adult when child(ren) are in the water.