Every year, an average of 15 Israeli children drown at beaches, swimming pools, streams and other sites, according to Beterem – the National Center for Child Safety and Health, which called on parents to be “full-time” guards when their children swim.

Parents should not take it for granted that a lifeguard will be there, see that the children are in trouble or save them, said Beterem director-general Orly Silbinger.

“Beaches and pools are fun for adults and for children alike, but we have to remember that we have a job. We must observe them from a close distance and be alert. If one has to talk on the phone or feels tired, take the child out of the water or appoint a responsible adult to stand guard,” Silbinger said.

A new Australian study that appeared in the Injury Prevention journal produced worrisome results, which likely reflect a similar – if not worse – situation in Israel. It found that half of adults who were supposed to supervise children at a beach or pool did so from an improper place, distance or angle, which made it difficult to impossible to ensure the children were safe.

Water safety for children up to the age of 14 requires adults to observe the children at all times, be within hearing range and arm’s length, and be free of disturbances, Beterem said. But one out of two adults does not meet these criteria.

According to statistics, 75 percent of Jewish children aged up to 17 drowned in the sea, 15% died in swimming pools and the rest died in nature or other areas. Among Arab children, 64% drowned in unsupervised bodies of water not meant for swimming; the remainder mostly drowned in the sea.

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