Forum: All need to play a part to prevent drowning incidents

Drowning is a serious and neglected public health issue, with an estimated 236,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide.

It is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7 per cent of all injury-related deaths.

Unlike public health challenges such as malnutrition and malaria, there are no broad prevention efforts that target drowning.

The global estimates may significantly underestimate the actual public health problem related to drowning. Children, males and individuals with increased access to water are most at risk of drowning.

On April 28, the United Nations declared July 25 as World Drowning Prevention Day at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly when it passed the resolution on global drowning prevention.

The World Health Organisation has highlighted the need for urgent action on the following measures:

• Installing barriers, thereby controlling access to water;

• Providing children safe places away from water, such as childcare centres for pre-school children;

• Teaching swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills;

• Training in safe rescue and resuscitation;

• Setting and enforcing safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations; and

• Improving flood risk management

Drowning happens quickly and silently. Intervention requires a multi-pronged approach.

SG Project Silent believes all efforts in drowning prevention - from legislation, government intervention and local non-profit organisations' efforts - count, and they must start with individuals.

Equipping people with knowledge on water safety and drowning prevention will strengthen our defences against drowning incidents in Singapore, and help develop a culture of safety.

We encourage people to respect the water and know the danger of the environment and their own limitations.

Parents and caregivers have to provide uninterrupted supervision whenever their children are near, on or in water. The "one-arm's length" supervision approach is strongly recommended for younger children and non-swimmers.

Always buddy up when engaging in any aquatic activities. Lastly, take swimming and life-saving classes, which are important life skills for survival.

Together as one community, let's make every Singaporean a safer swimmer and an island that is free of drowning.

Danny Ong

Project Leader

SG Project Silent