When tourists and travellers embark on their adventures, they often seek out new experiences and explore unfamiliar environments. Unfortunately, open water accidents and drowning incidents can occur, posing a significant risk to their safety. Lack of swimming skills, underestimating water conditions, lack of awareness about local safety measures, and unfamiliarity with the water environment are mainly responsible for the accidents. It is crucial for tourists and travellers, especially those going into the ocean, river, or any open water bodies, to be aware of the potential dangers and take necessary precautions to prevent drowning. Open Water Safety Tips for Tourists Learn Swimming Skills It is highly recommended to have basic swimming skills before going into open water. Travellers need to take swimming lessons to improve their abilities and build confidence. Knowing how to float, tread water, and swim basic strokes can significantly enhance your safety in the water. Stay within Your Comfort Zone It's essential to assess one’s own swimming abilities and stay within one’s comfort zone. Avoid venturing into deep or fast-flowing water, if one is not confident. It’s always safe not to attempt activities beyond your own skill level, such as diving in unfamiliar areas or swimming long distances without proper training. When the tourists attempt to swim in a new area, they should try to stick where they feel comfortable and safe, considering their swimming proficiency and experience. Read more: United efforts needed to prevent death in drowning: Ambassador Mustafizur Take Local Advice Bangladesh is known for its vast network of rivers, and some areas have strong currents. It would be better to familiarise yourself with the water conditions and potential hazards in the specific location you plan to visit. Currents can be unpredictable, so it is important to understand their behaviour and take necessary precautions. Travellers can seek advice from local authorities, experienced water sports professionals, or knowledgeable guides. The local people can provide valuable insights about the local water conditions, any specific precautions to take, and areas to avoid. Observe Warning Signs Experts suggest paying close attention to warning signs, flags, or instructions from local authorities regarding water conditions. These signs may indicate high tide, strong currents, dangerous areas, or any other potential hazards. Tourists should always follow these guidelines to ensure their own safety. Wear a Life Jacket If you are not a strong swimmer or when participating in activities like boating, kayaking, or rafting, wearing a properly fitted life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) can enhance safety. Life jackets provide buoyancy and can save lives in the event of an accident or unexpected water conditions. Besides, it is necessary to ensure the life jacket is in good condition and properly fastened. Read more: Bangladesh leads WHO in adopting resolutions to reduce drowning mortality
The United Nations General Assembly has adopted unanimously a historic resolution on drowning prevention globally. The Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN, Ambassador Rabab Fatima on Wednesday introduced the first ever one-off UNGA resolution on “Global Drowning Prevention” which acknowledges the ‘silent epidemic’ for the first time in UN’s 75-year history. Co-led by Ireland, the resolution was co-sponsored by a total 81 Member States. The resolution recognizes that drowning affects every nation of the world and provides a framework for action for an effective response to the unacceptably high number of drowning deaths. The resolution further identifies that drowning is a preventable cause of mortality that disproportionately affects children and adolescents within and among nations. A new UN Day for drowning prevention, 25 July, was also proclaimed to promote awareness and encourage national action, as well as share best practices and key solutions to drowning. Bangladesh Permanent Mission to the UN in New York has been working since 2018 to ensure that this global and preventable epidemic secures much-deserved political space internationally. In introducing the resolution at the plenary of the General Assembly, Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Rabab Fatima stated that “The Government of Bangladesh recognizes the urgency to have a resolution to generate greater political commitment to prevention of drowning and is honoured to lead this effort at the UN”. Ambassador Fatima stressed, “We have reduced child mortality rates globally, however, if we cannot bring death from drowning to ‘zero’, our success in primary healthcare, and therefore, achievement of SDG 3 will remain unaccomplished”. In view of the fact that 90 percent of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with Asia carrying the highest burden, Bangladesh Ambassador observed, “Drowning is not just an injury, it is an inequity”. Since drowning incidents affect mostly poor families, drowning prevention could also contribute to achieving several other SDGs, including SDG 1 on elimination of poverty, Ambassador Fatima remarked. Referring to number of deaths from drowning, which is around 18000 every year in Bangladesh, Ambassador Fatima mentioned that the Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is working to ensure that no more precious lives are lost to water. A cross-governmental taskforce was established on drowning prevention – led by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with representation from 12 departments (including Fire and Civil Defence, Ministries -such as Education, Women and Children’s Affairs, Social Welfare, and Youth and Sports). The task force is working to prepare a ‘National Drowning Reduction Strategy’.