In Summary
  • PRODUCTIVE. The holidays are here, we have all activities lined up for the children and swimming is one of them. Charlotte Ninsiima finds out what parents could consider while getting their children a swimming pool.

On November 6, 2018, Daily Monitor reported a 13-year-old boy who had drowned in a swimming pool at Mestil Hotel in Nsambya, after a lifeguard had moved away shortly to a nearby play centre.
According to George William Musoke, vice president of Uganda Life Saving Federation, the hotel manager and lifeguard were put behind bars for delayed communication to the police about the incident and negligence of duty by the life guard.
Such an incident opens our minds to ask ourselves if our children have survival skills in water and what to look out for when choosing a swimming pool for your child. Musoke says regardless of age anyone can drown in less than three seconds.

Under supervision
Musoke shares a few tips on how to scout for a suitable swimming pool. A suitable pool should be supervised with a recognised life guard, and equipped with a register for attendees; with provision of signing in and out. The basis of contract between the hotel and individual helps to counteract any uncertainties in case the pool is insured.

“The swimming pool should be located in an enclosed area from the rest of the places, kept clean and clear with no clutter of bottles or construction rubble to prevent any accidents,” says Musoke.

Irene Ahumuza, a swimming coach at Greenhill Academy, says the swimming pool should be demarcated with shallow and the deep end.
“This should include specific age groups permitted to each end. Therefore, children ought to seek permission to differentiate between the shallow and deep end,” Ahumuza says.
Musoke emphasises that the swimming pool area must have notice boards which cite the ground rules and regulations.
“Before any activity, everyone must read on arrival at the pool,” Musoke says.

Life guard particulars
Lifeguards ought to be focused, available and away from distractions such as the phone and alcohol consumption.
Also, check if the lifeguard is certified and trained to administer first aid and resuscitate a life. If they should leave the pool premises, then they ought to notify with an indication or sign of no swimming.
Moses Kalanzi, the executive Director and co-founder of Swim Safe Uganda, demonstrates how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a drowned victim.
“Lay the person flat on the ground, fill air in the victim through mouth to mouth, then do 30 compressions on the chest. Thereafter, blow air twice into the victim’s mouth and repeat the tactic again.”

Ratio of lifeguards to the swimmers matters
Lifeguard must be sufficient to the number of people in the pool.
“Depending on the age group on condition they are in the reach out area such as the shallow end not deep end and they have an idea on floating; two to five children below seven years require one lifeguard, five to 10 children require two lifeguards, 11 to 18 children below 18 years require two lifeguards. However, if the mentioned groups have no swimming skills, then its one person to one lifeguard,” Kalanzi explains.

Parents need to be informed that repercussions of not knowing how to swim. Sensitising and training children on prevention is better than cure; equip children with life saving skills such as reaching out to the stick, shouting for help, diagnosing one in trouble to save themselves and other colleagues.

Uganda status
In Uganda, the National Data Centre on Drowning started in June 2018 but most data is not concluded as it is still under investigations while most deaths are concealed and never recorded as outlet owners negotiate with relatives of the victim to cover funeral expenses.

Did you know?
According to fact sheets by WHO published on drowning on January 15, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for seven per cent of all injury-related deaths.

Parents say…

“Hygiene of both the surrounding place and pool matter more than anything else. The water ought to be clean, and the floor should not be slippery or even possess algae to avoid accidents.” Doreen Kyohiirwe, trader.

“Before enroling my child for swimming, I go to the different recommended places before settling for one of them. I look at the quality of their floaters, life jacket and chat to their pool instructors as well as watch how they train other children.” Angella Ithungu, mother.

“The depth of the pool matters; an appropriate swimming pool for a segmented age group is key.
For example, my six-year-old cannot swim in a pool for 18-year-old and also rules and regulations are key.” Martin Kakaire, trader