It's summer vacations, the time that calls for a plunge into pond, river or the sea to cool down. However, beneath the calm surface of the waters could be hiding death traps that are never anticipated.
Most of those who dive into rivers are armed only with swimming lessons learned from pools. It's better to have precautions to face dangers in the deep waters.
The biggest drowning tragedy during this summer vacation happened on April 15 at Wairi beach in Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, when eight engineering students drowned during a picnic. Last year in February, 14 students from Pune had drowned at the Murud beach in Raigad.
Closer to us, in Vembanad lake two brothers drowned recently.
So how does death multiply in waters?
Unnikrishnan, 23, and Harikrishnan, 17, lost their lives while trying to save their relative Adityan who had risked drowning. Even Unni and Hari, who live on an islet that extends into the lake, could not read the dangers of the water. Two or more victims are not unusual in drowning tragedies as most of the times someone would sink and others would risk their lives trying to save the first one. No one should rush in to save someone falling into the waters even if one is good at swimming. The first attempt should be to provide a rope or a stick or a long clothing to help that person come closer to the shore.
If that doesn't work, one can take a plunge only if one is sure of his/her swimming skills. Children should better not attempt it and seek help from elders.
Traps under water
Rivers and lakes set dangerous traps in many ways.
» Natural traps: whirlpool, an undercurrent, slippery parts of rocks, hard rocks that trap the legs of divers.
» Man-made traps: sand miners leave behind pits that turn into huge traps whose dimensions can never be anticipated.
Also can be listed in this category are the tendency for extreme adventurism, excess drinking, drugs intake, the temptation to show off to peers, lack of understanding about the waters etc.
Those who hide the fact that they are not trained in swimming and take a plunge with friends are also at risk.
1,800 a year
It is estimated that an average 1,800 people drown every year in Kerala. Most of them are below 20 years of age.
Training is key
K. Sajikumar, a former swimming coach of Services, says the pool training is enough for rivers if it's done properly. Click for tips on swimming pool training.
Those rescued from water should be made to lie to the left side. This is to prevent water from the mouth from flowing back to the lungs.
» Press the chest hard. Give artificial respiration through the mouth or nose. The heart functions for nearly three minutes after breathing stops. Brain death occurs only after seven minutes. The early minutes, therefore, are precious.