Water safety

YESTERDAY the family of a three-year-old boy was grieving the loss of the toddler after his body was found in a pond at Tamavua Village.

As our report today reveals, Epeli Domokamica of Tacirua Village was to turn four in November. His relatives still cannot believe the little boy is gone.

The young boy’s cousin, Luisa Vonosere, said the toddler went missing from their home after 8am yesterday. When he did not return home, the boy’s mother informed the neighbours and a search was conducted. He had been playing with cousins before he disappeared.

A report was lodged at the Dokanaisuva Police Post in Tacirua around midday yesterday after the family could not find Epeli.

About four hours later his body was discovered floating in a nearby pond which is about three kilometres away from their house.

Little Epeli was described as a cheerful, caring, kind and a little boy with a big heart.

He was the youngest of three children.

Death is inevitable. It’s a fact of life. Accidents do happen. But accidents can be prevented.

With the school holidays upon us, our children will have a lot of time to spend outdoors.

Ideally, every Fijian should be a capable swimmer.

That is when one considers the fact we are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and have many rivers, streams and creeks criss-crossing their way through our islands.

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

As parents and guardians, we cannot afford to take anything for granted and we must be mindful of the whereabouts of children under our care.

Awareness campaigns are needed to push the message of vigilance.

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 its fact sheet that was reviewed in September last year, the World Health Organization listed drowning as the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7 per cent of all injury-related deaths.

More children will be out and about with friends during the school holidays.

Perhaps this is an ideal time to teach our children how to swim and inculcate in them some awareness of water safety issues.

Let us be proactive. We should be starting somewhere.

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