While the country was busy coping with the month-long war in Gaza, five people drowned in the Mediterranean, Lake Kinneret, swimming pools and even bathtubs, while 58 others nearly drowned but were resuscitated.
Magen David Adom – whose medics and paramedics tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the five who died – reported on Thursday that as tens of thousands of people relax on beaches and at pools, they face the danger of drowning if they don’t follow lifeguards’ instructions and safety rules.
The growing number of private pools, some of them not surrounded by fences, pose a great danger to children of all ages, as they do not have lifeguards.
In addition, many families go to guest houses and other recreation areas with private pools and no lifeguards. Others just set up small plastic children’s pools, but a child can drown in only a few centimeters of water if not supervised carefully.
MDA advised parents never to lose eye contact with young children at the beach or at pools, even if there is a lifeguard on duty.
Parents should also learn how to resuscitate drowning victims, the medical organization said, noting that if a person can’t see a lifeguard, the lifeguard probably can’t see them, and they should not go into the water.
In addition, parents should instruct children not to play dangerous games such as the “drowning game,” in which children try to push each other’s heads under water; not to jump head-first into shallow water, as such events have led to paralysis in victims; and not to run around the perimeter of the pool, because children who can’t swim can fall in and be injured.
MDA further urged people to be aware of their swimming ability and that of their children. If your friends dive in and swim long distances, but you are not able to equal their swimming competence, you shouldn’t join them, MDA said, adding that people should make sure they have the strength to return from any spot to which they decide to swim. If you’re tired, get out of the water, rest, have a drink and sit in the shade, the medical organization said.
One shouldn’t swim near breakwaters, as these structures can cause strong whirlpools that drag swimmers to the sea bottom.
Babies, toddlers and children up to the age of five are at the highest risk of drowning, because their heads are proportionately heavier than other parts of their bodies and they don’t understand the risks or how to stay safe.
One can drown within only a few minutes, said MDA . As such, one should stay within arm’s length of young children in the water; although inflated plastic floats give a feeling of safety, they do not prevent drowning.
Also, parents should shield children from the sun’s damaging rays with a full bathing suit or a shirt, regularly apply sunscreen, and keep them in the shade as much as possible.
In the event of a person drowning, one should get the person out of the water, call MDA at 101 and listen to the paramedics’ instructions on how to save the victim. If the victim is not breathing (his chest doesn’t rise and fall), lay him on his back far from the waterline and carry out chest massage until the ambulance arrives. MDA recommends taking the victim to a hospital even if he says he feels well, as more tests are necessary.