Heartfelt condolences to the family of the Angel who lost her life on June 2, 2017. I would like to commend the Royal Bahamas Police Force, The Bahamas Defense Force and the citizens of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas for mobilizing themselves to assist this family during this time.
This tragic loss, as all others are, has made a tremendous impact on our citizenry and we must use this loss as a measure to prevent others. We must do all we can as family members and citizens to protect our children.
The Bahamas is an archipelago and most families spend hours of recreational time on our beautiful beaches. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death from unintentional injury and one life loss is one too many. The Government of the Bahamas must put in place measures to assist in the safety of our children. I would like to take this time, as we approach Summer 2017, to suggest a few necessary options to prevent tragedies of this nature:
Survival Swimming for Children
Government Grants can be awarded to certified swimming instructors during the summer months and school year to launch a Swim and Survive initiative that teaches the essential components of personal survival and water safety along with developing strong and effective swimming techniques from the age of one.
Sun, Sand, Sea and Safety
The Bahamas Beaches and Parks Authority must partner with the Bahamas Child Protection Unit, The Royal Bahamas Defense Force and private organizations to bring awareness to laws and guidelines that govern the use of beaches and swimming as well as child supervision guidelines. This awareness campaign can include safety tip infomercials, newspaper ads, social media ads, beach signage as well as beach safety classes that include CPR training.
Lifeguards and Certified Life Vests
Trained Lifeguards to supervise the safety and rescue of swimmers and water sports participants should patrol all public beaches.
Public beaches can provide certified life vests, strongly suggested for children and non swimmers. Life vests keep the wearer afloat and visible.
Personal Beach Safety
Personal beach safety is also paramount. Here are a few tips:
1. Take the time to learn how to swim and teach your children to swim. Statistics show that swimming lessons can reduce drowning by as much as 88%.
2. Obey the buddy system while swimming. Try as much as possible not to swim alone and ensure that there is at least one adult directly supervising, at most, two to three children.
3. Allow non swimmers to wear life vests at all times.
4. Last but not least, stay sober; alcohol affects your judgement and decreases reaction time.
Be S.A.F.E (Smart, Alert, Focused, Educated) this summer Bahamas.
Shadow Minister for Social Services, Family & Gender Affairs