KAMPALA – Most children are drawn to water because it is fun especially when they throw objects into the water and it splashes. If the objects float, they are tempted to get into the water to pick them up hence drowning or near drowning. Water safety is no longer a laughing matter. Anyone can have a water-related accident at anytime, even those who know how to swim.
Recently, a tragedy befell this country when the State Minister for Water, Hon. Ronald Kibuule’s twins; Roman Kato and Rayden Wasswa, drowned in their family swimming pool in Mbalala, Mukono district. This accident happened when there was no one to watch over the kids. As people were still grappling about that incident, another tragedy happened on Sunday, May 18, on Lake Albert where over 30 people were reported to have drowned in Hoima district.
According to the CDC reports, nearly 3,500 people die in drowning accidents every year. A large majority of these drowning accidents occur at swimming pools. Even if an accident at a pool does not result in death, the victim can be seriously injured and require emergency medical treatment. In fact for every child involved in a pool accident, another four will require emergency medical treatment for a serious injury.
With these reasons, our writer brings you important tips on how to prevent water accidents and even save lives;
Supervise your children at all times. Never leave children unsupervised near a pool, hot tub or natural water body even if they can swim. Mr. Benard Baidu a swimming coach at Collin Hotel in Mukono says parents or anybody who takes children to swim should supervise them.
“As a responsible adult you should watch your children at all times when at the pool,” he said. He also advised that one should avoid any distractions like chatting, reading novels and being on your phone all the time while children are in the water. “Drowning occurs quickly and quietly, so always be on high alert,” he added.
Get a 24/7 pool attendant. For those with home pools, he advises that you should at least hire someone to watch the pool at all times. “People with home pools have ignored the need for pool attendants,” Mr. Baidu said. “A family should get someone to attend to the pool, the way they hire maids to do house chores,” he explained.
Keep the pool area free of toys. Ms. Doris Alako, a mother of two said, “If a toy is not being used, it should be far from the pool area because children may be tempted to get into the water unsupervised to play with toys or retrieve them and have an accident.”
Make sure at least one responsible adult knows Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Studies show that having CPR skills saves lives. In such a moment CPR could be the first aid you give to people who have drowned before you take them to hospital.
Use the buddy system. Elizabeth Namaholo a Social Work student at Uganda Christian University said that she never goes swimming alone. Even adults who are strong swimmers can have an accident at the pool, so it is never safe to go to a pool alone. Go with a buddy or make sure that a lifeguard is always present.
Fence it in. During the burial of Hon. Kibuule’s children the former Minister for Information, Brig. Jim Muhwezi confessed to having an open pool and as a result, suggested that covers or fences are put on/around the pool. Install a fence at least 4 feet tall that separates the pool area from the house and yard.
Wear a life jacket: “Children and adults should wear personal flotation gears whenever they are riding in a boat,” Mr. Baidu said.
Keep in mind that air-filled swimming aid isn’t a substitute for a life jacket.
Make use of pool attendants: according to Mr. Baidu, most people who use hotel pools never make use of the pool attendants.
“When you reach a pool ask the attendants to take you through the pool regulations and to guide you about where the deep and shallow ends are,” he guided.