ALL security preparations are in place to ensure the safety and security of the public when they go swimming during the 90-day summer vacation period although the Philippine National Police stressed yesterday the need to remind the public to guard against deadly drowning incidents which yearly take dozens of innocent lives.
In particular, a rise in the number of drowning incidents in the country this month alone has prompted PNP spokesman, Colonel Bernard M. Banac, to remind the public to be more safety-conscious when swimming in beaches and pools this Holy Week and the rest of the summer vacation.
According to Banac, the public must keep in mind all safety tips from the PNP and other government agencies once they are on vacation during the coming long weekend and the rest of the summer period where thousands are expected to troop to the provinces to swim in beaches, waterfalls, swimming pools, rivers, lagoons and creeks in their areas.
Since the month started, the PNP has recorded at least nine drowning incidents. The deaths were recorded in the seawater in San Antonio, Zambales, Bagac, Bataan, Panglao, Bohol and Cantilan, Surigao del Sur; the river in Norzagaray, Bulacan and Biñan City in Laguna; swimming pool in Rodriguez, Rizal and in Compostela, Cebu; and a waterfalls in Claveria, Misamis Oriental.
“We encourage the public to be careful while on the beach and swimming pools. As of now, siyam na po or nine drowning incidents nationwide have already been reported kayat patuloy po ang ating paalala sa ating mga kababayan, sa mga naliligo sa dagat, sa swimming pool at sa mga ilog,” Banac said.
PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde has mobilized his men to ensure the safety and protection of the general public during the summer period where major events like the Holy Week, fiestas, Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan are being held.
During the period, thousands of vacationers troop to beaches, swimming pools and other places where they can swim. The most dangerous thing however is when drunk persons try to swim or kids dive in the water unaccompanied by their parents or guardians or are simply neglected in some other cases.
There are also cases when kids go to the pool with companions who don’t know how to swim and cannot provide any help to a drowning victim for fear he/she may drown also.
Members of the PNP Maritime Group whose men are highly-trained swimmers are among those assigned to patrol beaches and other resorts ready to provide assistance when the need arises.
Banac said the public must be wary of all first-aid stations both in private and public pools and beaches as well as the location of police assistance desks.
Drowning is said to be killing an average of 372,000 people worldwide and is considered as a serious public health issue in the country prompting authorities to remind Filipinos to learn how to swim considering the fact that the Philippines consists of more than 7,000 islands.
Officials have reminded parents and guardians to be very careful in choosing places to swim and most importantly, to know if these places have facilities to secure swimmers.
This is very important since drowning has been tagged as the second leading cause of death among Filipino children aged 14 years and below quite a few years ago.
Children are known to be more prone to or at greater risk of drowning if they don’t know how to swim. Thus, authorities have recommended to Filipinos much closer child supervision, wearing of flotation devices, participation in water safety awareness activities and training programs on first aid, basic life support and basic survival swimming for both child and adult.
In many instances, families of pool drowning victims have blamed operators of swimming pools for tragic incidents although the owners said they have not been remiss in reminding their guests to be wary of their pool rules and regulations.
The pool deaths have prompted calls for owners of private swimming pools and beach resorts to install high-quality CCTV cameras that will record incidents in their facilities 24/7.
The PNP National Operations Center in Camp Crame serves as the hub and nerve center of all nationwide operations under PNP Oplan Bantay-Lakbay. The PNP Health Service was also directed to field emergency vehicles and teams to respond to medical emergencies involving police and the civilians along the highways.
Officials likewise warned of heatstroke, dehydration, diarrhea, ‘bungang-araw,’ motion sickness and fungal inspection which are usually associated with the summer period.