Ah! The sun, sea and surf! Who doesn\u2019t like the beach and swimming and water adventures like shooting rapids or flying down water park slides at 100km an hour?\u00a0 It\u2019s always more fun in the water as they say, and with the holiday season being round the corner, this just might be the perfect getaway for the entire family! In Malaysia, we\u2019re lucky to have as many 878 islands with the most fabulous beaches for all kinds of water activities. There\u2019s Perhentian, Redang, Tioman in the East Coast and lots more in the West Coast including Langkawi, Penang, Pangkor, Rawa in Johor and even Port Dickson in Negri Sembilan. As for other water bodies \u2500 we have countless waterfalls, lakes and rivers for kayaking, rafting, boating, fishing or just simply picnicking and having a splashing good time. Rivers are mysterious, beautiful, powerful and magnetic \u2500 the perfect spot for an adventure, recreation, picnic and water play. However, rivers are the Number One hotspot for drowning in Malaysia. According to the Fire and Rescue Department, the most dangerous places that have taken many victims are: 1) Rivers (and Canals), 2) Beaches, 3) Waterfall and 4) Lakes\/Mining Pools and Dams. Reality is Grim: 1.5 to 2 Persons Drown Everyday in Malaysia, Mostly Children But here\u2019s the rub. Drowning deaths in Malaysia are rising by the year. More than 400 people in the country die from water-related accidents every year \u2500 more than double the annual average death rate of those who die by fire. Death involving fire is recorded at 150 a year, The Star reported in December last year quoting the 2018 statistics from the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department or BOMBA (JBPM). This means at least 1.5 persons die every single day from\u00a0drowning\u00a0in\u00a0Malaysia, a rising statistic as compared to 1.1 in 2017. These are the 2018 stats from JBPM. Drowning death toll numbers tend to spike during the holiday season. (Image Credit: The Star) What\u2019s even more alarming is \u2500 these statistics show just the tip of the iceberg as only drownings from natural waterways are counted. These JBPM numbers do not include cases from man-made or indoor places such as swimming pools, water theme parks and water receptacles in and around the home. The Fire and Rescue Department says most drowning incidents nationwide occur at rivers and beaches. The figures up to October 2018 show that as many as 136 people drowned in rivers and 40 at the beach. They further say, these numbers tend to rise during school and public holidays, weekends and during erratic weather conditions such as the monsoon season and floods. Beaches are the Number Two most dangerous hotspot. Never leave a child unattended on the beach. He could wander into the waves. Never jump into the water yourself without taking safety precautions. The undercurrents and tide may be too strong for you to handle, even if you have strong swimming skills. Always do your research first. Drowning: Second Highest Cause of Death to Children aged 1 to 18 Perhaps a truer and grimmer picture is better illustrated by the National Water Activity Safety Council (WASC). WASC member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said in a June 2019 report in the New Straits Times that more warning signs should be placed prominently at recreational swimming areas that pose a high risk of drowning and that parents need to monitor their children while playing in the water. Drowning is preventable, he said, provided that all relevant parties and the public play their roles effectively. He referred to a study by the Perak Clinical Research Centre showed that about 500 people, mostly youth, drown in Malaysia annually \u2013 making drowning the second cause of death among those between the ages of one to 18. The study also found that in the first nine months of 2017, 31 children between the ages of two and nine drowned in hotel and theme park swimming pools in Malaysia, with 75% of victims being below the age of five. "More often than not, many parents are unaware that their children are playing near the river or pond," said Lee. \u201cParents 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. \u201cIn some tragic incidents, the children drowned while their parents were busy checking in at a hotel reception counter.\u201d Drowning cases often involve students and teens, especially during the school holidays. More worrying, half of the victims are those who tried to save other children. Drowning cases often involve students and teens. The numbers often rise during school holidays. Many times, parents are unaware that their children are playing in a river, waterfall, pond or swimming pool. Dr Amar Singh, Perak Clinical Research Centre head and head of the paediatric unit at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh, Perak said, \u201cThe main problem in Malaysia is that children try to save others \u2500 their brothers, siblings and friends\u2026that makes two factors which contribute to drowning. \u201cThe message that is difficult to be passed on to them is that when other people are drowning, you do not get into the water or you will die too. As a result, sometimes, two, three people die at the same time.\u201d 31 children aged two and nine have been found drowned in hotel and theme park swimming pools in Malaysia in 2017. Drowning Cases in Malaysia Here is a collection of four random cases out of the many that have happened in the third quarter of 2019. \t9-Month Old Baby Drowns in Bucket of Water On July 26, 2019, The Malay Mail reported that a nine-month-old boy drowned in a bucket of water in a toilet of a nursery in Shah Alam. \u00a0The toddler was found head-first in the bucket at 1.45pm while the 30-year-old owner and the caregivers were engaged in a play activity for the rest of the children in the room. \tFather Drowns Trying to Save Son at Bentong Waterfall On September 7, 2019, Bernama reported that a 48-year old father drowned soon after getting his 14-year-old son out of trouble at the Chamang Waterfall in Bentong, Pahang. It was a family outing at the waterfall. After pushing the son to safety, the father himself got into difficulties. When she saw her husband struggling, the wife shouted for help to fellow picnickers. Those who rushed to his aid managed to pull the man out but they were unable to resuscitate him. \tForm One Student Drowns in Sabah Waterfall On September 26, 2019, The Star reported that a 13-year old Form One student drowned while swimming at the Kionsom Waterfall recreational area in Sabah. The student had gone to the waterfall with friends as they had no classes. She was seen struggling in the water shortly before drowning. It is learnt that the victim had gone to the waterfall without notifying her parents. \t7-Year-Old Drowns in Kuala Ibai Lagoon in Terengganu On September 22, 2019, a seven-year-old drowned at the Kuala Ibai Lagoon in Terengganu. In The Star report, the body of the child was recovered at 6.33pm by Fire and Rescue Department divers at the bottom of the lagoon, 20m from the location where he was said to have disappeared. Kuala Terengganu Fire Station chief said the child and two of his friends had gone to the lagoon for a swim and two of them got into difficulties at about 5.40pm. The friend was rescued by members of the public. How to Prevent Child Drowning Every parent should know the facts and take precaution. Water is fun but water is also dangerous \u2500 whether navigated at sea, in your condominium swimming pool or in one\u2019s own bathroom. Drowning does not happen only while swimming. It can happen any time a child is around a water feature, such as a little fish pond in your house garden or in a landscaped park. Real life drowning is not like what you see on TV or the movies. Drowning doesn\u2019t look like drowning as they say \u2500 there is no yelling, screams of help or splashing and thrashing about in the water. Drowning is silent, it happens in the blink of an eye and you, as the parent, could be 2m away without you knowing that it has happened. Children often fall in without a splash and sink very fast. They can drown in as little as 25 seconds because they panic (and forget whatever swimming skills they may have) and involuntarily suck in water into their airway. In the case of near drowning, they can be brain-damaged for life. Children can drown in the shallow end or in a baby pool and even in a plastic playpool, and if in the bathtub, a baby can drown in one inch of water. One more thing \u2500 drowning doesn\u2019t necessarily have to be during swimming times or while playing in water. It could happen when a child a fully clothed, wanders into the bathroom and falls head-first into an open bucket of water or toilet bowl. The most at risk is toddlers \u2500 those aged one to four, but even those older are not clear of the danger. Toddlers are top-heavy. They have big heads in proportion to their short torso and limbs. They cannot balance well and tend to fall in headfirst. Ironically, many drownings occur at public places such as water parks or swimming pools with plenty of people around because everybody assumes that someone else will be aware of what\u2019s happening in the water. This assumption cannot be further from the truth. Here are 9 Steps to Prevent Child Drowning 1. Never take your Eye off, Always Stay within Arm's Reach Remain close, constant and attentive when your children are in and around the water. Children are not experienced swimmers. They could get tired, or slip, or get stuck underwater and then they panic. You should stay in the water with your child at all times, within touching distance, giving him 100% of your attention. If you need to leave a pool area, say, to go to the toilet, to fetch a towel \u2500 take your child with you. Never leave him there unattended for even a second. 2. Ignore your Phone When you\u2019re at the pool or the beach or the lake, do not be tempted to reach for your phone. Yes, those Instagram posts are important to you. If you must take pictures, make sure there is another adult next to your child watching him before leaving your child to reach for your phone. It is best to silence the phone so that you will not be called to attend to phonecalls and text messages.\u00a0 This, however, doesn\u2019t mean, that you should leave your phone at home. It is best to keep it fully charged and within reach in case of emergency. 3. Do Your Homework before Going for Water Activities: Never ignore Warning Flags and Signs Warning signs of danger have been put out by the Fire and Rescue Department around all high-risk recreational areas like waterfalls, mountains and beaches nationwide. Please heed these signs and watch your children. The Fire and Rescue Department has said that many drownings are due to victims being unfamiliar with the water condition and did not take heed of the weather forecast. They can be caught unaware by headwaters or riptide. But if you do your research first, you would know that the area is prone to this phenomenon. If the weather condition is bad, cancel the trip. It\u2019s not worth your life. 4. Don\u2019t Rely on Water Wings, Tubings and Child Seats as Safety Devices These are not made to be life preservers. Watch these two videos to see how two separate toddlers in different countries were almost drowned while \u201csafely\u201d wearing flotation devices. As can be seen, play flotation devices are not reliable and can even cause drowning. Make sure your child wears appropriate life jackets. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?vgjFFTgsrOh4 https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?vn78zyyokEDM 5. Install Water Barriers and Heighten Supervision around Pools Most houses in Malaysia don\u2019t have swimming pools but almost all condominiums do. With more and more people opting to live in high rise apartments and condos these days, there is sure to be an infinity pool and a child pool and other water features in the recreation area. There should be gating or lifeguards around the pool to prevent accidents. If you have a swimming pool, whether above-ground or in-ground, never assume a child will listen to you and not wander in or that he cannot possibly climb up the ladder of your above-ground pool and fall in. There should always be gating and a secure latch around all pools to prevent untoward incidents. If you are using an inflatable or plastic pool, empty the water as soon as the child has finished playing. Most parents think that a three or four-year-old can just stand up and get out of a baby pool. But if he falls and gets a lungful of water, he can get scared and not know what to do. A child that age can drown in very shallow water in a few minutes. 6. Take Swimming Lessons All children and parents should learn to swim. Some of the main causes of drowning said the Fire and Rescue Department are people\u2019s lack of swimming skills or lack of awareness of their own ability in the water. They also neglect safety precautions when doing water activities. 7. Teach your Child Water Rules \tNo running \tNo diving in the shallow end \tNo pushing people in \tNo pulling other kids under the water \tNo swimming or playing in any water without adult supervision\u2014 ever 8. Learn CPR If the worst happens and you have to rescue a distressed swimmer, you need to do CPR. Learn CPR by going for a proper class but watch this video to get an idea. There are also great water safety tips in the video. https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v6qS_ptZjI2Y 9. Be aware of the Hazards at Home Open buckets of water in the bathroom are a big danger. So many toddlers in Malaysia and around the world have drowned in open buckets filled with water. If you must keep water in the bucket (due to water shortages and scheduled water cuts), get buckets that have latch, twist or screw-top covers. Keep toilet seat covers down and ensure that no child is left to play unattended near water features such as fountains and turtle or lily ponds in your garden. (Image Credit: Child ad Bucket \u2500 Healthy Homes Partnership\/Fountain \u2013 The Party Rental Company) Most deadly accidents affecting young children happen in one\u2019s own backyard or inside one\u2019s own home. \tGarden Water Features: Many people have landscaped water features around their home such as fountains or Koi ponds. These are usually never gated. Never leave a child unattended when he is outside near the water feature. \tBaby Bath Seats or Rings: Never leave your child unattended in a bath seat \u2014 he could slip down into the water and get trapped underneath, or the ring could tip over, as can be seen in the above videos. \tBuckets and Containers: A curious toddler can fall headfirst into a water-filled bucket and be unable to get out. Even a cooler filled with melting ice or a mop water pail or a pail for soaking clothes can be a drowning hazard. Always make sure to empty all receptacles after use. \tToilet Bowls: Keep toilet cover down and keep bathroom door closed at all times. Install a toilet-cover safety latch. A curious toddler might lift the toilet seat and fall in. For more stories on child safety and babycare, visit\u00a0Motherhood.com.my.