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Safety in the water

Dawn Gibson
Monday, March 17, 2014

IN the lead-up to World Water Safety Day, The Fiji Times tried to publish a story a day relating to water safety to bring attention to drowning issues in the country and the preventable nature of drowning.

When infants and young children drown, questions arise relating to the whereabouts of their parents, or family members, and people often look to place blame somewhere other than the child — fair enough considering five of the 18 drowning cases this year were children below five years.

With this in mind, the Water Safety Council of Fiji has cited some important ways parents can take preventative steps to be sure they and their child are protected from such a fate.

"There are four key areas that International Life Saving has looked at, so the first one is parental supervision — everybody needs supervision," explained council education and planning officer Bronwyn Soko.

"Whether they're able to be sort-of a good swimmer or not, we're focusing on 'get supervision' no matter how good you think you are."

Mrs Soko said it was crucial that parents remained alert about what's happening around them and not to be easily distracted from the task of supervision.

"It doesn't mean you have to be a champion swimmer, it just means that you need to be alert when, say, someone has just moved out of their depth, or the sky looks like it's getting darker — just having extra eyes.

"The second is restricting access — often you'll have children who just walk around the village and there's water there, so restricting access is stopping them from being able to accidentally slip into a creek or accidentally move too far, or accidentally do anything that could potentially put them in harm's way in terms of water safety and safety in general."

The third, she said, was to know your own swimming ability.

"A lot of people think, 'oh, I can swim', and they might be swimmers in a pool, but when it comes to a river there are a lot of differences, from a river to a pool, from a beach to a river and so on.

"And the fourth is, of course, to improve your own ability to stay safe when around danger in the water."





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