Essential water safety tips

The entertainment world is in mourning after the devastating drowning death of popular Nigerian Nollywood actor Junior Pope Odonwodo during a boat trip for a film production on Wednesday. Pope died alongside three crew members aboard a small boat that capsized after colliding with another vessel on the River Niger in Anambra State, underscoring the need to sensitize individuals on essential water safety tips. 

Emeka Rollas, the president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, expressed devastation over the tragic incident, emphasising that despite the actor’s remarkable talent, the absence of fundamental water safety measures resulted in this terrible outcome. He stressed that this incident should serve as a wake-up call for both the industry and society.

Preventable Drownings: A Global Crisis

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 320,000 people drown annually, making it one of the most frequent causes of unintentional death worldwide. Lack of supervision, failure to wear life jackets, alcohol use and inability to swim are major risk factors.

The single most preventative measure in drowning incidents is the proper use of life jackets, experts say. Other essential water safety tips include:

  • Learn to Swim

The ability to swim is a vital life-saving skill that everyone should have. Formal swimming lessons provide instruction on proper techniques, how to tread water, survive a water emergency and more. Even basic swimming ability can make a difference in preventing a drowning incident. Swimming is a skill that should be learned at a young age and maintained throughout one’s life.

  • Get Trained in Water Rescue/ CPR

Individuals who know water rescue techniques and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) are often the difference between life and death in drowning situations. CPR is an emergency procedure performed to manually maintain circulation and breathing in a person who is in cardiac arrest or experiencing respiratory failure. 

It involves chest compressions and rescue breathing to keep oxygenated blood flowing to vital organs until further medical intervention can be administered. It’s crucial to learn CPR techniques as they can potentially save lives in emergencies. 

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
source: pixabay

Water rescue training covers things like ‘reach assists’ and other retrieval methods. CPR training provides skills to resuscitate drowning victims. Having these skills allows one to respond effectively until emergency help arrives.

  • Swim in Areas with Lifeguards Present 

Lifeguards are highly trained professionals whose entire role is to monitor swimmers and water conditions to prevent drownings and other incidents. Swimming at beaches, pools and other areas without lifeguards drastically increases risks as no one present can act, provide rescue equipment or administer aid in an emergency. Lifeguards provide an essential dose of protection.

  • Avoid Alcohol Before/ During Water Activities

Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, coordination and respiratory capabilities – a dangerous combination around water environments. Even a small amount of alcohol can increase drowning risks by reducing one’s ability to safely swim or respond in a water emergency. It is critical to avoid any alcohol consumption before swimming, boating or other water recreation. 

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While the circumstances of Wednesday’s boat collision are still under investigation, experts say the posting of videos appearing to flaunt a lack of safety protocols is extremely troubling.

Junior Pope’s unfortunate incident has sparked efforts to enact water safety certification requirements and protocols for all Nollywood and Nigerian film productions involving water work. As family, friends and fans mourn his loss, the hope is that some good can come from this unspeakable tragedy in the form of getting acquainted with some of the essential water safety tips and precautions.

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