KT edit: Parents to blame for kids drowning, punish them
A two-year-old drowned in a pool in a villa in Dubai last week.
Swimming pools are becoming death traps more often than we would like to believe. A two-year-old drowned in a pool in a villa in Dubai last week; an 11-year-old drowned during his swimming lessons in Sharjah on July 31; another two-year-old drowned in the family's Al Ain house pool on July 12; twin boys, aged two years and five months, drowned in a pool in Ras Al Khaimah on June 8. These are statistics for just the past three months, and it is agonising to say the least. It's time the stakeholders - parents, teachers, caretakers and the government - and the youngsters themselves realised the graveness of the situation and swung into action.
Surveillance cameras installed at entrances to the pool area, accounting for young children entering the area and qualified lifeguards at all times are minimum precautions. In addition, pool areas should be made strictly inaccessible to children when not supervised by an adult. They need to be supervised at all the times; there is no room for complacency here. Vigilance without distraction - not even for a minute or two to check the phone - can be afforded. Remember, it takes very little time for a child to drown. It is alarming when families seem more concerned with aesthetics than safety and refuse to net or fence their backyard pools. That mindset needs to change. A fence that is at least six feet high without horizontal footholds that could allow children to climb and with locks are must-haves.
When drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for those under the age of 15 and with several unfortunate events underscoring the need for precautions, the question is how inclined we are to adhere to the rules? The UAE being a melting pot of cultures, there could be a divergence on how people view safety. Several laws regarding pool safety have been drafted and redrafted, but they seem to vary from emirate to emirate.
Pan-UAE safety guidelines with harsh penalties should hence be in place to prevent such tragedies. Parents and teachers need to be aware that regulation is important. And almost as important as adult supervision is to ensure that the children themselves are taught not just how to swim but also how to help their friends in the swimming pool. Swimming lessons and CPR training should be made compulsory in schools along with a water safety curriculum that would help children recognise and prevent drowning risks. The onus finally rests on the parents when the children are at home and on teachers and trainers while they are in the campus. It boils down to how responsible we are towards our children.