Drowning is quick, just a silent gasping for air and 20 to 60 seconds later, submersion. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Drowning is quick, just a silent gasping for air and 20 to 60 seconds later, submersion. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Drowning, a quick and silent killer

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Feb 16, 2021

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Johannesburg - Drowning is quick and silent. It’s not like you see in the movies.

No yelling, no waving. Just a silent gasping for air and 20 to 60 seconds later, submersion. Someone has drowned, perhaps in plain sight.

Following a week of fatal drownings across South Africa, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), is urging the public to exercise caution when swimming and when children are playing in and around water.

According to Statistics South Africa, fatal drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death, with an estimated 600 children dying by drowning in each year.

Many of these drownings could be prevented if there was a responsible, able-bodied person watching the children when they are in or near water, and if they were able to recognise the signs of drowning.

The NSRI has developed a “swimming monitor” ID tag to avoid confusion on who should be watching the children while they swim.

“We encourage people to print it out, add a lanyard or tie it on a loop of string for the designated swimming monitor to wear it around their neck. The person who is ‘on duty’ should do nothing other than watch the children while they are in the water.

“The tag should be passed to another responsible adult after half an hour to make sure there is no lapse of concentration from the person who is on duty.

“It’s important that those supervising the children know who to call for help and how to do bystander CPR. The swimming monitor tag has emergency numbers printed on the front, and on the reverse side are infographics on how to do Bystander CPR.”

The Star

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