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Water safety

It’s officially summertime, which means long hot days in the sun and at the pool. Unfortunately drownings are listed as one of the top causes of unnatural (and preventable) death amongst children in South Africa. Surprisingly, more water-related emergencies are reported for inland provinces than for the coast. According to Netcare, many accidents in coastal provinces involving children result from freshwater sources: public and private swimming pools, rural dams and rivers. Coastal incidents generally involve 10 to 18 year-olds, while inland cases involve younger victims (2-8 years old). Children should be taught basic safety rules: never swim without an adult present, never play rough or push and shove others beside the pool. Children must never be left unattended when swimming. It only takes a few minutes for a child to drown, and a small child can drown in a few litres of water: in buckets of soaking laundry, fishponds, water features, toilets, pet water bowls, boreholes and open drains. Don’t burden older children with the responsibility of being a child minder – they can easily be distracted. Alarmingly, 90% of children who drown are under some sort of supervision at the time.