Drowning is a silent killer and can happen within seconds, especially in children.
This is why parents must watch their kids very closely when they are in the water, a Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) doctor has said.
The number of children who drown in Qatar is going up each year, the chairman of Qatar’s Kulluna Health and Safety campaign said this week.
In a statement, Dr. Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen added that 90 percent of drowning cases involve children under the age of 10 years old, and 70 percent of those cases are victims younger than four.
“Drowning incidents in Qatar occur mainly at home, in private swimming pools and bathtubs. There are also some incidents of drowning in the sea.
Almost all the drowning incidents in swimming pools in Qatar happen when the parent or caregiver is not present.”
He explained there are several myths about drowning, which include the belief that:
- Children will follow instructions and stay away from water hazards;
- Kids can safely be left unattended for short periods of time;
- A lifejacket or flotation device will prevent drowning;
- Adequate safety measures (such as a lifeguard) are already in place; and
- Younger children can play safely in the care of older kids.
To help keep children safe, the doctor advised constant supervision, teaching children how to swim and setting/enforcing clear rules about what to do near water.
Learning to perform CPR is also recommended, and free courses are offered through Kulluna.
Finally, Saifeldeen recommended thinking beyond the obvious to reduce the risk of drowning.
According to Kulluna’s website, children in Qatar have drowned in swimming pools, baths, fish tanks, buckets, on building sites and in the sea.
“About 70 to 80 percent of drowning cases happen when the child is not supposed to be in the water,” Saifeldeen said.
For adults, the Ministry of Interior has previously advised not swimming alone; never replacing life jackets with plastic water rings as they are not designed to keep swimmers safe; and never using water rings of any type if the water is deep.