300 kids drown in Malaysia every year

PETALING JAYA - Three hundred children drown every year, according to researchers, but not all are in rivers and pools.

Assoc Prof Dr Kulanthayan K.C. Mani said that for younger children aged four and below, even the bathroom posed a potential risk.

"Drowning happens when you have excessive liquids entering your airways. All you need is a few centimetres of water for a child to drown," said the Universiti Putra Malaysia Safe Kids Malaysia's executive director.

Examples of high-risk areas in the bathroom include bathtubs, toilets, and even water buckets, citing the recent case of a 19-month-old boy who drowned after accidentally falling into one when his mother left him to look for a towel.

To reduce accidents, Dr Kulan­thayan suggested emptying anything holding water in the bathroom after use, keeping toilet lids closed to prevent curious toddlers from falling in, and never leaving children alone in the bathroom, no matter the circumstances.

The issue was recently highlighted by the Sunday Star.

He said parents should also lock bathrooms when not in use as curious youngsters might find themselves in dangerous situations.

He also urged parents to constantly supervise their children when swimming.

"Some might feel it is okay to leave their children alone or with older children after multiple visits if they have undergone swimming classes. Parent supervision should always be there.

"Not every pool has lifeguards at all times," said Dr Kulan­thayan.

He pointed out that the oldest child around might not be able to concentrate on supervising, as it is highly likely that he too would be playing in the water.

Their skills to diagnose the situation will not be as good as that of an adult who would be more able, physically and mentally, to address the problem.

"A kid is still a kid. We shouldn't see the oldest child in the group as a young adult," he added.

The World Health Organisation reported that 372,000 people die from drowning every year, with over half under the age of 25.

It also stated that drowning was the third leading killer of children, just after HIV and meningitis.

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