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
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.