NEWS

Food, drink and pleasure craft are drowning hazards

Ignorance of a few simple preventive measures and safety precautions results in a large number of deaths by drowning and accidents involving speedboats and passenger boats. World Health Organization (WHO) statistics put Greece among the countries with the largest number of seaside accidents. In 1989, there were 2.36 drownings for every 100,000 people, second only to Japan (with 2.56 per 100,000). Between January 1988 and June 1993, 2,380 people drowned in Greece, that is 250 people on average every year. Everyone knows, or should know, how dangerous it is to eat before swimming, but not everyone realizes that consumption of alcohol should also be avoided. In countries such as Finland, drinking and swimming accounts for 50 percent of deaths by drowning. Powerboats and jet skis are not only a nuisance but the skippers of these craft do not always observe the safety regulations and persist in carrying out dangerous maneuvers near swimmers, resulting in 191 accidents between 1984 and 1993, killing 53 people and injuring 134 others. Swimmers should notify the port authorities if these craft approach swimming beaches and should join forces with other swimmers to protest to the owners of the craft. When spearfishing people are obliged to trail a floating marker in order to warn passing craft of their presence. Finally, passengers on ferries should find out where life jackets and lifeboats are kept on the ship, and keep their children close by them, advises EKAB.