Public urged to take care amidst drowning deaths

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

Following a number of deaths due to drowning which were reported over the last few days, the Police Department has pointed out that the authorities have a very limited role to play in preventing accidents due to drowning, and that therefore, most importantly, the public should be careful in ensuring their own safety.

Speaking to The Morning, Police Media Spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Nihal Thalduwa said: “It is very unlikely that the Police or any other authority will be able to intervene to minimise or prevent the dangers of drowning. All we can do is to warn the public, but people need to be careful about their own safety.”

The latest incidents of deaths due to drowning were reported from the Mullaitivu, Peradeniya, and Kuruwita areas where some persons died and others went missing in accidents related to drowning.

He added that although the Police and other relevant authorities have the ability to warn the public not to go into reservoirs under the influence of alcohol and on days of inclement weather, drowning accidents can only be prevented if the people follow those instructions properly.

“For example, a hotel has a swimming pool and someone is going to take a bath in it while under the influence of alcohol; we cannot legally stop them in such a situation, but the person concerned should think about their own safety. The hotel management should also take steps to prevent such persons from getting into the swimming pools. These are not matters that the Police or any other authority can monitor,” Thalduwa noted.

Speaking further, he said that mostly people who go on trips are meeting with accidents related to drowning and added that people always have a responsibility to avoid bathing in unknown places and to take care of the safety of others, if it is a group. “Simply, people need to be able to understand if a place is safe to bathe in, and if there are small children in a group, they need to be taken care of.”

However, he said that local government authorities are displaying billboards mentioning places which are unsuitable for bathing and that the Police are also conducting public awareness campaigns in certain areas. “But some people go swimming in such dangerous places too, so in the end, the most important thing is for the people to think about their own safety,” he emphasised.