Objective: To determine the state of tourists drowning at Easter for both Foreign and Filipino Nationals in order to propose interventions to Foreign Embassies, the Department of Tourism, Local Government Units and Tourism Operators in the Philippines.
Subject: A drowning surveillance based on Media Releases from period March 27 – April 16, 2013 was conducted. Initially tracked down were 55 Fatal Drowning incidents affecting both foreign and domestic tourists.
Results: For having recreational swimming activities, 5 foreign nationals drowned with tourist destination Boracay taking 3 victims and the rest for Bicol (1) and Paranaque City (1). On the lead are still Korean tourists (2 at 40.0%), Chinese (1 at 10%), Canadian (near drowning, 1 at 10%) and an American (1 at 10%). Reported drowning incidents were due to beach swimming at 80% and an unusual swimming or dipping at water tank (20%). Age Group at 18-40 years old remained highest at 80% and 41-60 years age group at 10%. For domestic tourist drowning, mortality is highest among children ages 17 under at a total 58%, categorically with fatalities for 0-4 toddlers at 2% , 5-14 Age Group (54%), 15-17 Age Group (2%), 18-40 Age Group (34%) and 41-60 Age Group (8%). Male to Female Ratio is at 70.1% to 29.9% respectively. Venues of Drowning Incidents for this Easter Season are from the highest order – Beach (34 at 61.82%), River (16 at 29.1%), Swimming Pools (3 at 5.44%) and Lakes / Water Falls (2 at 3.64%). All happened at daylight particularly times between 6 – 9 a.m. and 12:00 noon – 5 p.m. Multiple Drowning is evident mostly at River and in one occasion at the pool. All Drowning incidents are caused primarily by doing Recreational Swimming. This surveillance also confirmed drowning incidence during long holidays / holydays family excursion at Easter. Influence of Alcohol was evident to some drowning victims at ages 18-40 age group.
Recommendations: Drowning remained to be a deathtrap to both foreign and local tourists with high exposure to water activities particularly this Easter. A double effort on Creating drowning-safe coastal tourist destinations by improving water safety supervision to beach and river goers, strong supervision by parents to children, implementing International Life Saving standards for lifeguarding water activities, launching of national language-based Drowning Prevention Awareness Program to specific tourists, developing risk reduction leadership within tourist communities and fostering tripartite collaborations among resort owners, lifesaving societies and local communities maybe effective interventions to prevent tourists from drowning. Putting in place a localized Drowning Prevention Awareness Plan aligned with the Philippine Drowning Prevention Plan 2010-15 is strongly recommended. Cooperation among drowning prevention stakeholders to include the participation of foreign embassy officials needs to be activated. (Report by Arne NAVARRA, PLS President – www.philippinelifesaving.org)
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