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« our campaigns | Water Safety campaign

Sadly, a substance that many of us take for granted can also put children’s lives at risk under certain circumstances.

Here are some of the frightening facts identified by the Child Safety Team that relate specifically to children in Qatar:

  • Fact: Drowning is the most common cause of accidental death in Qatar for children aged 0 – 4 years.
  • Fact: The number of child deaths from drowning is rising annually.
  • Fact: 90% of drowning cases involve children aged 10 years and under; 70% of those children are under the age of four.
  • Fact: The majority of drowning accidents occur in and around the home, NOT in swimming pools!
  • Fact: In Qatar, children have drowned in swimming pools, baths, fish tanks, buckets, on building sites and in the sea.
  • Fact: 80% of children drown when no-one is watching them.
  • Fact: In over three quarters of reported child drowning cases, water based activity was not the intended activity as the child was fully clothed at the time of immersion.

Did you know?

  • Fact: Children less than 2 years old are ‘top heavy’ – their heads are proportionately heavier than the rest of their body.  As a result they can easily topple into water hazards.
  • Fact: A child can drown in less than 2 minutes in as little as 5cm of water in absolute silence.
  • Fact: Children who receive resuscitation quickly, at the scene of the accident, have a better chance of survival.

What can we learn from these facts?

The statistics show that in Qatar we could do much more to protect children from the dangers of water.

What can we do to stop children drowning?

The simplest answer is proper SUPERVISION!  Constant supervision is the key to keeping a child safe around water.  You will not be aware that a child is in trouble unless you are watching them (remember that they can drown in silence – they may not shout for help like an adult would.). 

The most practical answer is to take steps to reduce the overall risks of drowning which you can do in many ways.  Here are some key examples:

At Home:

  • When supervising young children in the bath don’t ever leave them unattended, not even for a second!  A child in the bath should never be more than an arm’s length away from you.  Child bath chairs are not a substitute for adult supervision.
  • As soon as a bath is finished, ensure that it is emptied straightaway.
  • Use safety locks to keep toilet lids down when not in use and keep bathroom doors firmly shut.  Discourage children from playing in and around the bathroom when you are not there to supervise them.
  • Empty buckets of water and store the buckets upside down when not in use.  Children have drowned in nappy buckets and in buckets catching drips from air conditioners.  If you are using buckets with water make sure that the children are kept well away from them.
  • Never leave a child unsupervised near water even if they know how to swim.
  • Drain paddling pools as soon as playtime is over.

At swimming pools:

  • Don’t let children play in a swimming pool without an adult being there to supervise them
  • The pool should be fully enclosed by a 4 foot fence and accessed by a door or gate with a self-closing mechanism.
  • Cover and lock pools when they are not being used
  • Use anti-entrapment drain covers to prevent small children getting sucked into them
  • Watch children even if they know how to swim
  • Children who can’t swim well, or can’t swim at all, should be within easy reach and wear lifejackets
  • Ensure the responsible adult has a mobile phone with them in case of an emergency
  • Teach children to swim
  • Teach children to never go in or near water without an adult present

At the seaside:

  • Designate an adult as a ‘water watcher’
  • Watch children even if they know how to swim
  • Children who can’t swim well, or can’t swim at all, should be within easy reach and wear lifejackets
  • Ensure the responsible adult has a mobile phone with them in case of an emergency
  • Teach children to swim
  • Teach children to never go in or near water without an adult present
  • Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. Teach them about uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
  • Learn adult and infant CPR.

In general:

 Parents and carers often mistakenly believe that:

  • children will follow instructions and stay away from water hazards
  • that a child can safely be left unattended for short periods of time
  • they have adequate safety measurers in place
  • younger children can safely play or be in the care of older children