Opinion and Editorial

Safety in the swim

Filed on March 11, 2012

Weekend tragedies underscore the ironical pathos of pleasure turning pain. The loss of two young lives in Sharjah while swimming in a ‘no go’ area is an indicator that with the summer approaching the risk factor in water increases.

Despite the efforts of the police, the hospitality industry and the municipality, the desire to take that risk invariably ends up with tragic consequences. Let us try to make this year as death free as possible when we are having fun.

To reach that goal there has to be a collective responsibility. You have to obey the rules of the elements because fire, water and air can be unforgiving. Don’t venture beyond your capabilities. If you are a learner don’t take on a dare. More people die showing off or playing silly games in water than by actually being hit by the currents. There is nothing brave about going out to sea beyond your skill level so that some friend is impressed. You may not come back.

Take heed of warning flags, they are not put up there for fun, they mean business. Even if you are a competent swimmer you are nothing but a lemming to Nature and her majesty, and if you do not check out the currents and the undertows where you are swimming you could be asking for trouble.

The sea is not the only dangerous place for shenanigans. The swimming pool is also fraught with threat especially for smaller children whose parental neglect can turn a happy day into a harrowing nightmare. The plaintive defence that the parent’s attention drifted only for a moment is no solace after the tragedy. And yet, every so often we hear of children drowning because no one was there to supervise them.

Elderly people should also never swim alone. The same goes for those with ailments like cardiac problems, diabetes, obesity or simply lack of swimming skills. Certainly, these recommendations are not new but they never get heard. Let’s try to keep our people safe through the year by not taking pointless risks. Another source of danger is the flash flood that occurs in the wadis and has often washed away stranded holidaymakers who cannot get out of the way. Do not park or stand in a wadi and follow the instructions of the guides. Even as we express regret for the Sharjah tragedy we implore all of you to be sensible.

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