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Water safety

Shalveen Chand
Saturday, November 01, 2014

SEVENTY ONE per cent of the nation's annual drowning happens during the cyclone season says the Water Safety Council of Fiji.

Council director John Philp said the major cause of drowning during floods was people entering floodwater. He said this included driving vehicles across river crossings, walking and children playing in floodwater.

"Floodwater is often deeper and faster flowing than it appears, full of hidden debris" Mr Philp said.

"Large volumes of fast flowing water can come and go very quickly, sucking in or trapping anyone who gets close to drains and pipes. "These places are dangerous to play when flooding.

"They can be slippery, have strong pulling power and can be very hard to get out of." Last season's drownings in the Western and Northern divisions showed that 58 per cent occurred in rivers, 54 per cent occurred in the afternoon between 12pm and 5pm and the average age for those who drowned was 23 years.

Figures show that of those who drowned, 29 per cent of the victims were swimming, 21 per cent were unsupervised and only one in 12 persons had CPR applied to them.

The council said people travelling by boat needed to be mindful of weather forecasts and avoid travelling when heavy rain and strong wind warnings were in place.

Mr Philp said young children should be supervised and not be allowed to use such volatile weather conditions as a playground for fun and enjoyment.

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