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Flood warning

Dawn Gibson
Monday, January 19, 2015

THE Water Safety Council of Fiji has observed when there is flooding, the major causes of death and injury occur when people enter floodwaters, something WSCF director Colin Philp says is often a lot more dangerous than it seems.

So, when entering the year 2015, take better precautions when it comes to the rainy season and water safety, especially when you are about to start your new school year.

"Floodwater is often deeper and faster flowing than it appears, full of hidden debris," Mr Philp told this newspaper yesterday.

"Large volumes of fast flowing water can come and go very quickly, sucking in or trapping anyone who gets close to drains or 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."

Mr Philp also said extra precautions must be taken when travelling by boat during such weather conditions: "be mindful of weather forecasted during rainy weather conditions and avoid travelling when heavy rain and strong wind warnings are in place."

He said it was important that more emphasis was placed on water safety and the dangers of drowning.

"Heavy rainstorms cause periodic flooding of local rivers, high and dangerous surfing conditions and flooding of low-rising villages."

According to WSCF statistician Dr Stephen Galvin, there is a noticeable difference in drownings associated with those aged one to four years during the cyclone season.

"For the 2013-14 season, 64 per cent of the children aged one to four years that drowned, did so when rainfall was greater than 20mm, with 38 per cent drowning when rain was less than 20mm," Dr Galvin said.

These, he added, were when children were reportedly unsupervised, swimming and crossing rivers.

In light of the statistics in recent years, Mr Philp says parents, guardians and children must be more responsible.

"Teach school-aged children swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills. Get regular weather forecasts by listening to the radio, turning on the news and reading the paper.

"Train bystanders in first aid and CPR by contacting Fiji Red Cross Society or the Fiji St John Ambulance."

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