ONE cannot ignore the growing number of drowning deaths in our country each year with such cases happening more often during the school breaks.
Over the last couple of months there were a number of such deaths involving students.
According to the Fire and Rescue Services Department, the number of drowning cases ran into a few hundred each year and this matter must be viewed seriously.
Presently, there is no single authority which compiles and collects data on drowning cases and publishes an annual report on such tragedies.
There is a need for Malaysia to focus attention on the worsening number of drowning cases and take measures to prevent more deaths.
It is just unacceptable to see more deaths due to drowning, especially involving kids, due to negligence and lack of safety measures undertaken by those responsible for the safety of the public.
The time has come for Malaysia to set up a databank on deaths caused by drowning indicating the gender, age group, location and causes of drowning through a proper authority so that we can better deal with the problem.
There are many factors which cause drowning such as unrestricted and ready access to beaches, lack of knowledge and understanding of the water conditions, ignorance, disregard or misjudgement of the hazardous water conditions, absence of constant visual supervision and lack of awareness and education in water safety, personal survival and life saving.
The implementation of an effective risk management programme can reduce the incidence of death by drowning.
It is the responsibility of those organisations with jurisdiction over the beaches and hotel swimming pools to identify the dangers and take steps to minimise drowning cases.
There should be proper supervision of beaches and pools, support legislation that requires the use of personal floatation devices to be worn for all water activities.
Education on safe practices during water activities and water-related hazards are among the prevention strategies that should be adopted by the authorities.
Recently, a meeting was held with Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan to discuss the proposal to establish a National Water Safety Council to reduce the incidence of drowning in Malaysia and promote a water safety culture for Malaysians.
Raising public awareness and organising educational campaigns on water safety and safe practices during water activities is essential to minimising drowning incidents.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
National Institute of Safety and Health