x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Drownings prompt warning to swimming labourers

Drownings were up to seven people in 2010 from four in 2009, partially due to swimmers taking to undesignated areas.

DUBAI // An increase in the number of drownings last year was partially a result of labourers swimming in undesignated areas, according to police.

Seven people drowned in 2010 compared with four in 2009. The number of near-drownings also jumped, from 29 in 2009 to 46.

Major Ahmed bu Ruqweba,the acting head of Dubai Rescue Police, said a lack of public awareness about swimming safety coupled with an increase in the number of beach visitors was the reason behind the rise.

"There has been an increase in the number of drowning cases among labourers, especially illiterate ones, as many of them are swimming in undesignated areas and cannot read the safety warnings," said Maj bu Ruqweba.

Many companies, according to Maj bu Ruqweba, organised beach trips for their workers to areas not designated for swimming, so putting their lives at risk.

"Companies need to be responsible and not organise such trips, or send someone with the workers who can advise them about the appropriate swimming areas and read the safety guidance boards," said Maj bu Ruqweba.

The increase in the second half of last year also signalled a shift in safety trends. In the first half of 2010, police warned that children under the age of 18 were most at risk.

Later this year, Dubai Police will release a booklet giving safe swimming practices.

wissa@thenational.ae