KUALA LUMPUR: More warning signs should be prominently placed at recreational swimming areas that pose a high risk of drowning.
The initiative to install the signage should be undertaken by the Fire and Rescue Department, local authorities, hotel managers, as well as theme park administrators.
“All parties should strive for zero drowning deaths by making prevention part of their culture; while children and school students should be taught about the danger of drowning and ways to avoid being a victim.
“I hope that other agencies would help the Fire and Rescue Department by patrolling or stationing their personnel at high-risk areas. They should also give advice as well as put warning signs for visitors, especially at picnic areas considered (drowning hotspots),” said National Water Activity Safety Council (WASC) member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
In a statement today, he said that drowning cases are preventable, provided that all relevant parties and the public play their roles effectively.
Lee also said local authorities should replace damaged or vandalised warning signage immediately; while hotel managers and theme park administrators should tighten their security measures.
The Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) identified 19 hotspots nationwide ahead of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations recently.
The locations were determined based on data of drowning incidents which exceed five victims between 2016 and 2018 at rivers, waterfalls, beaches and lakes.
The high-risk drowning locations include Port Dickson's beaches in Negri Sembilan, Pantai Puteri in Melaka, Sekayu Waterfall in Terengganu and Sungai Pertak in Selangor.
A study by the Perak Clinical Research Centre showed that about 500 people, mostly youth, drown in Malaysia annually – making drowning the second cause of death among those between the ages of 1 and 18.
The study also found that in the first nine months of 2017, 31 children between the ages of 2 and 9 drowned in hotel and theme park swimming pools in Malaysia, with 75 per cent of victims being below the age of 5.
Lee also advised parents to constantly keep an eye on their children to avoid any unfortunate incidences from occurring.
“Parents must always keep an eye on their children since, in many drowning cases, (adults) were unaware that their children were playing near a river, pond or swimming pool.
“In some tragic incidents, the children drowned while their parents were busy checking in at a hotel reception counter,” he added.
WASC has identified 15 high-risk areas and 39 risky areas for drowning nationwide and noted that most incidents occurred at (in order of frequency) rivers, canals, beaches, lakes, mining pools, waterfalls and sewage systems.