Fiji Time: 7:55 PM on Monday 30 November

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Drowning scenario

Fred Wesley
Monday, November 30, 2015

THREE families are mourning the loss of a loved one after recent cases of drowning.

This is a tough period for the families.

They are still in shock and this will slowly give way to the realisation their loved one is never coming back.

It is unfortunate but this is a fact of life. Death is inevitable. Accidents do happen. But accidents can be prevented.

As our report on Page 1 reveals, with the school holidays just starting, two students have been reported dead. They are among three people who police say drowned at the weekend in separate incidents. In the first incident on Saturday afternoon, a 13-year-old student of Kalekana in Lami drowned while participating in a routine training session at the National Sailing Centre at Suva Point.

Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said the boy drowned when the hobie cat he was in capsized about 1.5 kilometres from shore.

IP Sokomuri said a 16-year-old student drowned while swimming with her younger sister at Naiborebore Village in Nadroga.

He said the third incident happened at Sabeto in Nadi, where a 23-year-old man drowned while swimming with friends in the Sabeto River.

We realise and acknowledge the impact the deaths may have caused families and friends of the victims.

Ideally, everyone in Fiji should be a capable swimmer, especially when one considers the fact we are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and have many rivers, streams and creeks criss-crossing their way through our islands.

One would think there were many reasons for parents and guardians to encourage children to learn to swim. Let us be alert and vigilant around our many waterways.

As parents and guardians, let us not take anything for granted and be mindful of the whereabouts of children under our care.

At one stage Fiji was losing an average $6.9million a year through drowning.

Figures released during a stakeholder meeting of the Fiji Water Safety Council in Suva in April, 2012 revealed we suffered a loss of $89.5million from 1999 to 2011 through drowning.

Awareness campaigns are needed to push the message of vigilance.

Drowning statistics hit the highest in 2005 when 68 people died. It cost the economy $9,956,589.60.

Police estimated in 2012 that an average of 48.5 people drowned annually.

This, it said, would amount to about five people for every 100,000 with our population at approximately 900,000.

More children will be out and about with friends during weekends and with the school holidays looming.

This is also an ideal time to teach our children to swim and inculcate in them some awareness of water safety issues. We must start somewhere.

Our thoughts are with the families who are in mourning now.

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