The study, conducted by Dr Barss P. and Dr Grivna M. of the Department of Community Medicine of UAE University (UAEU), was presented on the first day of the 7th UAEU Research Conference.
They have pointed out in the study that while most drownings occur off the sea coast in the UAE, followed by swimming pools, water safety instructions throw little light on safety at sea and the hazards of bathing and boating in the sea. Similarly, there is lack of information on the hazards of sea bathing for people with epilepsy.
Since most visits to the beach reportedly occur during May to September, safety messages should target the people during this period, they have stated. Primary care physicians should help by counselling new parents on prevention of drownings and other hazards.
Many Arab youths in Al Ain city overestimate their swimming ability, when measured against their actual capability of swimming a length or portion thereof of a swimming pool, the study further noted.
The study has also revealed that only 22 per cent of self-styled strong swimmers were able to swim one length of a pool. While a majority of students rated learning to swim as very important and regarded the school as their preferred location for learning swimming, only 26 per cent had received such training at school.
While 75 per cent of students stated that drownings are nearly all or mostly preventable, 34 per cent blamed drowning on carelessness of the children and 37 per cent on fate or destiny.
These contrasting positive and negative attitudes suggest a need for further education about the main modifiable causal factors for drowning.
The drowning rate as reported by the World Health Organisation in respect of the Eastern Mediterranean Region is 5.7 per 100, 000 per year. The research data collected from clippings from a single newspaper indicate a rate of at least 0.5 per 100,000 population per year in the UAE, while the Ministry of Health reported only about half this rate.
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