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Legislation needed to prevent child drownings

Every year 5,000 children in Europe die as a result of drowning, with an estimated 180 children and young people under the age of 19 dying in Portugal between 2002 and 2010 according to APSI, the Portuguese Association for Child Safety.

With the summer season now underway in the Algarve, APSI is highlighting not only the dangers of possible fatalities due to drowning but also the poor prognosis for children who do not die, but suffer neurological damage as a result of near drowning.

According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), for every child who dies due to drowning there are at least two left with permanent disabilities.APSI has collated information about the demographics of the children involved in drowning and near drowning accidents to be able to better identify ways in which to tackle drowning prevention in Portugal.

The APSI report shows that more than half of the drowning in children and young people occur in males between the ages of 15 and 18 and on unsupervised beaches, while an almost equal number of drownings occur in pools, ponds and streams, with this affecting mainly boys up to the age of nine.

A spokesman for APSI said: “Today we know that more than 80% of drowning cases can be prevented. To be able to significantly reduce mortality rates from drowning we need to implement integrated strategies in Portugal, including the placement of physical barriers at swimming pools and around wells and water tanks as well as increasing permanent surveillance at beaches and pools.”

The spokesman added: “It is imperative that legislation be updated to protect children from drowning and an integrated national strategy in not only necessary but needed urgently.”