Drowning prevention is high on the agenda of the Hua Hin Municipality with steps now underway to make a difference to Thailand’s horrific rate of child drowning at the local level.
Drownings involving children under 15 in the kingdom averages about 1,400 children per year or a shocking four kids per day.
Drowning caused about 56 percent of child deaths, followed by road accidents at 25 percent and falling from heights at eight percent. The number of drownings is reportedly highest during school summer breaks. The 12-day period from 12 to 23 April is the deadliest period for such accidents.
“Most drowning deaths occur in or near children’s homes,” says the National Institute for Child and Family Development Director Adisak Plitponkarnpim. “For small children, such incidents usually happen when parents leave their children out of sight. For older kids, they will sneak out to play in water with their friends without telling their parents, although they can’t really swim.”
A steering committee meeting has set operational guidelines for programs to begin this year. Apart from public relations information and education about the dangers and risks, survival swimming courses are planned for children aged 6 years and over, as well as encouraging those aged 12 years and over to have knowledge of first aid, CPR and AED techniques and how to best respond to emergency situations.
Drowning prevention training for students will first take place at Ban Bo Fai Municipal School on March 12-14.
Surf Life Saving Australia, the not-for-profit community organisation that promotes water safety and provides surf rescue services, is also providing training for instructors in Phuket in March.
The Rotary Club of Royal Hua Hin is playing an important part to the initiative by funding both the attendance of ten participants from Hua Hin in the Phuket training project and developing the drowning prevention program first presented in Chiang Mai some two years ago.