Preventing Drowning Deaths

Having endured relatively prolonged winter and erratic weather, associated with rains and hailstorms lately, people in Kashmir valley have been grappling with unusual heatwave from the last few days. The mercury has already scorched to 34.7 degrees Celsius in Srinagar, the second highest temperature recorded during the month of June in almost 12 years. North Kashmir’s Kupwara town, surrounded by lush forests and big mountains, recorded the hottest June day in over a decade on Thursday.  The heat wave has actually pushed people, especially young and children, to look for cooling options amid the present covid-19 crisis. Easy option, more so in villages, is to dive into the water bodies. However, it has led to tragedies already. A number of children and youth have already drowned.  The administration and the people cannot let their guard down when it comes to safety at water bodies including those in backyards.

The higher temperatures will continue for at least a few more weeks, and it’s vital that everyone follow simple water safety steps to help prevent a tragedy.  People should be more cautious and keep a watch on children. Rather they should never leave them unattended in or near a water body.

While the drowning deaths are devastating, they are also preventable.  Of late the district administrations would even ban swimming and bathing. In a related development, authorities in Bandipora district on June 10 banned swimming and bathing in Nallah Madhumatti with immediate effect  as the flow in the water body “increases tremendously in summers and few people especially children venture out for swimming and bathing .” The Deputy Commissioner, who passed orders for the ban, underlined that it was aimed to save lives. “This trend has resulted in loss of lives by drowning in the past,” the Deputy Commissioner said and as a precautionary measure to safeguard the precious lives, ordered complete ban on swimming and bathing in the water body with immediate effect till further orders.

The concerned should work on strategies to prevent drowning deaths and in this regard resort should be taken to educate people about the risk of drowning associated with hot weather and, in particular, also issue specific warnings.  There is also need for stricter checks and as has been directed by the Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, local Executive Magistrates , police , officers of allied departments should ensure strict vigil alongside the banks of water bodies and take measures to prevent drowning deaths.

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