During a recent survey, it was found that about 11 million Thai children under the age of 15 cannot swim. Which is probably why the number one cause of death for Thai kids is drowning. We are now entering the summer holidays in Thailand, and over the next few months, many kids will be left on their own while their parents go to work. During the school break last year, 361 children drowned. I am surprised not more is done about other than brief mentions in the national newspapers. One obvious way to improve these tragic statistics is to offer free swimming lessons to all school children. Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done now.
The following statistics on drowning in Thailand are from the National Injury Survey conducted by the Institute of Health Research, Chulalongkorn University:
- Drowning is the leading cause of death in children aged one year and over in Thailand, causing nearly 2,650 deaths every year.
- Drowning caused almost half (46 per cent) of all child deaths in the 1-4 age group.
- On top of these figures, some 3,000 children nearly drown every year.
- Most drowning occurs in rural areas, during the day, when mothers are busy with housework or other chores and the unsupervised child unexpectedly wanders away.
- More than half (56 per cent) of all drowning deaths occur within 100 metres of the child’s home. For toddlers, this proximity is even more striking. Almost three quarters of drownings (74 per cent) occur within 100m of the home, and two in five occur within 10m of the home.
- Children younger than five account for more than half of all drownings (53 per cent). These children are too young to learn to swim so prevention requires increased supervision, especially as infants develop into toddlers and outstrip a busy mother’s ability to closely supervise them.
- Reducing child drowning, particularly for the under-fives, requires developing ways to increase close adult supervision as well as reducing access to drowning hazards close to home. This could be by using play pens or door barriers for very young children, and fences or other barriers around water bodies for older, more adventurous children. These measures need to be in conjunction with close supervision and swimming lessons.
Source: Child Injury in Thailand