Editorial comment – Raising water safety

Picture: FILE

IT is sad that two families are mourning the loss of their loved ones following separate incidents where a man’s body was found floating in a river in Labasa and a child allegedly drowned in a river in Seaqaqa.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro confirmed the young man, in his 20s, was reported missing by his family when he failed to return home from work last Wednesday.

The man’s body, she said, was later found floating in the Qawa River on Friday afternoon.

The victim from Vunika, Labasa, she said, was last seen with friends on a night out.

When he failed to return home, she said, a missing person’s report was lodged by his family. A pastor who was returning from collecting firewood on Friday afternoon found the victim floating down the Qawa River.

In the Seaqaqa incident, Ms Naisoro said, the three-year-old child was found floating in a river at Senai settlement.

The incident happened on Saturday evening.

The victim, she said, was with a grandparent on Saturday and was later found lying motionless near the settlement about 200 metres away from their home.

As post-mortems are conducted to ascertain the cause of death, perhaps it is apt that we remind ourselves about water safety once again.

Ideally, every Fijian should be a capable swimmer, especially when one considers the fact we are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean.

Think about it.

We have many rivers, streams and creeks around our islands.

One would think there are many reasons for parents and guardians to encourage children to learn to swim.

In an ideal world, we all would be very good swimmers, and understand and appreciate water safety.

Alas, we are not in an ideal world! As parents and guardians, we can’t take anything for granted.

At one stage Fiji stood to lose an average $6.9 million a year through drowning.

Figures released during a stakeholder meeting of the Water Safety Council of Fiji in Suva in April, 2012, revealed we suffered a loss of $89.5 million from 1999 to 2011 through drowning.

Drowning statistics hit an all-time high in 2005 when 68 people died.

It cost the economy $9,956,589.60.

Police estimated in 2012 that an average of 48.5 people drowned annually.

This, it said, would amount to about five people for every 100,000 with our population at approximately 900,000.

In January last year the World Health Organization placed drowning figures at an estimated 360,000 annually worldwide.

It listed drowning as the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7 per cent of all injury-related deaths.

Perhaps we should be reminded about the importance of water safety and why we must make it our business.

We should be proactive.

We should be vigilant and we should place value on appreciating the power of nature. So let’s place water safety tips on a high pedestal.

Let’s be the catalyst for change.

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