Drowning, a tragedy all too common.jpg

Drowning, a tragedy all too common


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FOLLOWING SEVERAL recent cases of drownings in Portugal, a local council has launched an awareness campaign to warn people about the dangers of swimming in rivers and lakes.

After it was reported that a father and son drowned in the Guadiana River, in the Alentejo region on August 29 (See The Resident, September 7), the local council is now taking action.

Mértola Câmara has said that it wants to install warning signs along dangerous parts of the river in Mértola council.

Jorge Pulido Valente, President of Mértola Câmara said: “The Câmara, in partnership with the Captaincy of the port of Vila Real de Santo António, have handed in a proposal for the signs to the national water institute.”

Although there are no official records of the number of drownings in Portugal, The Associação para a Promoção de Segurança Infantile (APSI), the association for the promotion of child safety, has released a report detailing the number of fatal and non fatal accidents reported in children aged up to 18.

The report says that each year, approximately 30 children die from drowning, while 140 are hospitalised and 2,800 go to the emergency rooms. Around 65 per cent of the cases involve boys.


Faro District hospital also carried out a study between January 1998 and November 2005 which revealed that out of 54 cases of drowning, 70 per cent were boys. It was also noted in the report that in 83 per cent of the cases, the child drowned in a swimming pool in the region.

To prevent such tragic accidents from occurring, APSI lists measures that can be taken to limit the risks and improve awareness of the dangers.

These measures include putting physical barriers around or over swimming pools as well as pool alarms so that children cannot gain access to the water without supervision. Adequate sign posting of the dangers, constant supervision of swimmers and children near water and, the use of flotation devices are also recommended measures.

The Instituto Socorros a Náufragos (ISN), emergency and shipwreck Institute, has released a report detailing the number of coastal accidents and rescues since 2002. Between 2004 and 2006, the number of rescues carried out at sea rose from 103 to 1,853. The number of fatal drownings on supervised beaches has also risen slightly from five in 2005 to 10 in 2006. Results for this year’s summer season have not yet been released.

For more information about APSI, please visit the Portuguese website www.apsi.org.pt. Advice on beach safety can also be found in Portuguese at www.marinha.pt/isn/

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