Between 20 and 30 children die every year in Qatar due to drowning in private swimming pools or public beaches across the country, a senior health official yesterday revealed, signifying the importance of proper measures to save precious lives.
“It is very unfortunate that we have many children dying while swimming not only in pools but also in the sea and I will like to implore parents to ensure safety of their wards at all times,” Paediatric Emergency Centres director Dr Khalid al-Ansari told Gulf Times yesterday.
The official, who was reacting to a recent incident in which a 10-year-old Asian boy drowned in a swimming pool in a private compound in Doha, said children regardless of their age, should be allowed to use swimming pools only with an adult’s supervision.
“One thing parents should realise is that children, especially those aged below 10 years need close supervision while in the pool because it takes only a few minutes for calamity to strike. An unfortunate incident can happen within a second even while a parent is sitting by to keep watch,” he stated.
The official maintained that children should be made to wear protective life jackets while they venture into water. “Parents should ensure children put on secured life jackets preferably the one with plastic locks that could not be unfastened easily by the youngsters.”
Dr al-Ansari also asked those living in compounds to ensure pools are properly latched and fenced at least up to a level high enough to prevent a child from jumping in.
“In the US or Canada, swimming pools without proper fencing, safety measures and lifeguards will not be granted certification; I don’t think this is being ensured here. Even with a lifeguard around, parents should still serve as a second eye and supervise their wards,” he said.
The official also drew attention to other risks involved in swimming in community pools, especially those that lack proper facilities like changing rooms and toilets, thus preventing swimmers from maintaining proper hygiene before venturing into the water.
“While swimming together in large group, children stand the risk of contracting infections such as chicken pox, measles and ear infections as well as other water- borne diseases,” he cautioned.
The recommended precautions for a swimming pool, which is recognised internationally include the following:
- Installing of barriers of up to four feet high, with slats less than four inches apart, around a home swimming pool; the gates should be self-closing and self-latching and no child should be able to reach the latch; door and pool alarms should be used to offer additional protection; always watch kids in the water - kids should never swim alone; have a cordless phone, emergency numbers, a first-aid kit and rescue equipment near the pool; and learn Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) techniques.
Follow us on our social media channels: