THE overwhelming loss of life from Tropical Storm Ketsana in the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia could have been reduced if the populations had been equipped with survival swimming, lifesaving and w
THE overwhelming loss of life from Tropical Storm Ketsana in the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia could have been reduced if the populations had been equipped with survival swimming, lifesaving and water safety skills, the International Life Saving said today.
Initial reports suggest many of those who lost their lives died in the flooding which resulted from the tropical storm. The elderly and children were particularly at risk. According to the UN that 241 died in the Philippines, and 41 in Vietnam, a figure that is very close to the annual drowning figure in Australia.
Vision of whole families floating atop of house roofs or cars being swept down raging rivers, reinforces the extreme dangers if such events. Many lives were saved in Vietnam, after the situation in the Philippines triggered disaster preparations, with people moving to evacuation centers and higher ground. The phone call from well-known Philippines actress Christine Reyes begging for help because her mother didn’t know how to swim represents a problem of epidemic proportions in many parts of Asia and the Pacific.
“Unlike in developed countries where survival swimming, lifesaving and water safety are considered an essential part of community education and are widely publicised, most communities across Asia even in coastal areas have never had the opportunity to learn basic survival swimming skills, International Life Saving Federation Child Drowning Chair Justin Scarr said.
“With the Philippines experiencing around 20 typhoons a year affecting millions of people, and Vietnam being similarly affected by tropical storms and typhoons, survival swimming, lifesaving and water safety skills should be an essential life skill.
“The International Life Saving Federation has asked the Royal Life Saving Society ” Australia and The Alliance for Safe Children to co-host the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in2011 to bring together experts in the field with government and non government organisations to put in place a strategy to reduce global drowning.
“Ironically the World Conference on Drowning Prevention is scheduled to occur in May 2011 in Danang, Vietnam, one of the worst affected regions in the current disaster.
“As international lifesavers we have a humanitarian obligation to share our water safety knowledge to help prevent drowning deaths in our region.
For more information about the World Conference on Drowning Prevention contact:
International Lifesaving Federation Child Drowning Chair
Royal Life Saving Society ” Australia
+612 8217 3112
Article author: Belinda Lawton