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World Drowning Prevention Day: WHO tips to avoid accidents

Last 25 July was World Drowning Prevention Day, proclaimed by a UN General Assembly resolution in 2021 and celebrated annually around the world.

This day serves "as an opportunity to highlight the impact of drowning on families and communities and to offer life-saving solutions to prevent it," the WHO recalls.

The same organisation, on the occasion of this very important day, had issued a list with some practical tips to avoid drowning accidents as much as possible.

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World Drowning Prevention Day.
On the occasion of World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July, the WHO released some data on drowning in recent years. Official numbers speak of 236,000 people dying from drowning each year, a total of about 2.5 million deaths in the last decade. The accidents are mainly in the open sea, in rivers, but also in pools only a few centimetres high should not be underestimated. The most frequent victims are children between one and four years old, followed by those between five and nine years old.
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More WHO data on drownings.
According to WHO data, drowning has a 75 per cent impact on deaths during river floods, which are also becoming increasingly normal due to climate change. Drowning, the UN adds, is among the leading causes of death in children, young people and young adults in general up to the age of 24. Speaking in large numbers, drowning is the third leading cause of death from unintentional injuries worldwide. Ninety per cent of deaths occur in the poorest countries.
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WHO's advice.
On the occasion of the World Drowning Prevention Day mentioned above, the WHO has issued a list of six prevention measures to minimise the risk of accidents. The first, fundamental tip is to enrol children in swimming lessons from an early age, and generally teach them to swim well first in the pool. The ability to swim well is very important for children, much more so than equipping them with floaties and life jackets, as these are by no means life-saving measures.
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Always supervise children
Whether by a pond, river, beach or bathtub, children always need adult supervision so that they can immediately respond to any cries for help. This should be a fairly obvious rule, but evidently not for everyone.
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Promote life-saving and resuscitation courses
The WHO is also trying to promote the participation of the population in first aid, sea rescue and on-site resuscitation courses. Indeed, it has been proven that survival after drowning improves if CPR is performed as soon as the person is taken out of the water.
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Life jackets
One of the other WHO guidelines is to always wear a life jacket, whether you are on a speedboat, sailboat, canoe or dinghy. Even if you know how to swim, the low temperatures in certain places may prevent your muscles from working and therefore drown. In addition, swimming with all your clothes on, or in a severe state of shock, is really difficult. This device, unlike the armrests, is a real lifesaver.
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Check the weather conditions
Obviously, we are not talking about swimming here, but mainly about boat trips. It is very important to consult the daily weather report issued by the various harbour masters' offices, so that you are always informed about disturbances in the area. In addition, again for boat trips, you should always check that all safety devices are present and in perfect condition.
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The security measures identified by the UN
The measures identified by the UN to prevent drowning also range from installing barriers to providing safe places away from water, such as nurseries, for pre-school children. But also teaching swimming, training people in rescue and resuscitation, defining and enforcing safe navigation rules, improving flood risk management. In short, very similar to what the WHO has already said.
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