As people in Qatar flock to beaches and pools this summer to cool off, Qatar’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) has warned residents to take extra precautions when in the water.
The advice comes days after 45-year-old Indian expat Thomas John drowned while swimming late at night with friends at a beach south of Doha.
This year, the MOI emphasized children’s safety, and included these tips:
- Monitor kids carefully and don’t get distracted by browsing your phones or reading, as children tend to not be aware of risks;
- Make sure kids are wearing life jackets at all times, whether next to or in the water and even when on a boat;
- Don’t trust other children with your own, and make sure to teach your children to always ask for permission when going near the water; and
- Keep your swimming pools fenced off to prevent children from wandering in – but remember, fences are not a substitute for keeping an eye on kids.
Advice for adults
Other general warnings included:
- Don’t swim alone, and for extra safety, always have someone with first-aid training certification with you;
- Never replace life jackets with plastic water rings and other floating rings as they are not designed to keep swimmers safe; and
- Never use water rings of any type if the water is deep.
The MOI added that for watercraft users, make sure the device is safe and to wrap the lanyard around your wrist; and don’t ride watercraft in swimming and diving areas, lanes of ships or fishing vessels and areas of marine activities.
Finally, for boat-lovers, more safety information can be found on the MOI’s website.
Drownings in Qatar are uncommon, but tend to increase in the summer months and during the holidays.
In a 2014 report on drowning, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Qatar had 1.2 deaths by drowning per 100,000 people, based on 2011 figures.
Health officials have previously noted that about 20 people drown each year. Most of those drowning victims are children under the age of five, according to WHO.
In 2012, a public safety campaign called Kulluna (“all of us”) focused on spreading awareness of water dangers and not leaving children unattended near any water source.
And in an effort to improve water safety along Qatar’s coastline, the Cabinet approved a draft law last year that would require authorities to set up designated swimming zones on Qatar’s beaches.