Tips on Safe Swimming
It was bright Sunday morning. Citizen Oluka in company of four of his friends has gone to Okulu creek for swimming exercise. Thirty minutes later, the peaceful community of Agbonchia was disrupted following the death of citizen Oluka in Okulu creek. Citizen Oluka did not only lack swimming skill and ability; none of his friends knew what to do to rescue him, until he got drowned. Reasons advanced for the fatal swimming accident range from act of God to witchcraft.
To worsen the situation, three days later a deity (Ogbe) claimed to be responsible for the death. Towards this end, the deceased family was asked to perform certain cleansing sacrifices (Owara ogbe) and to pay over a million naira in cash to the Juju priest. Superstitious belief is still a leading factor in increasing swimming related deaths in riverine communities.
Many people who engage in swimming as recreational activities do so neither well nor wisely. To enjoy swimming activities one has to be free from injury, illness and death. Yet injury or death from swimming activities is primarily a result of accident.
The Nigeria’s Niger Delta region has topography of flat plains netted in a marvelous web of rivers, creeks, streams, and swamps. In Eleme alone there are several swimming outlets, including the Bonny River, Ngololo Creek, Gberekpii Creek, Okulu Creek and Wamba Creek. A good climate coupled with favourable natural endowments make swimming one of the leading sporting and recreational activities in the Niger Delta.
Swimming is one of the healthiest sports. Nearly every muscle of the body is used in swimming. Regular swimming helps develop coordination and strength. Across the world, millions of people swim regularly in rivers, lakes, oceans, and pools. If you do not know how to swim, take a course now. You never know when it will save your life.
In Nigeria, it is estimated that every year approximately 1,000 people drown while swimming. Over 20 percent of these deaths occur in home swimming. Several contributing factors have been advanced including poor supervision; failing to avoid dangerous areas; lack of swimming skills and ability; failing to wear life jackets or Personal Floating Devices (PFDs) for first time or amateur swimmers; being struck in the water by objects; and fatigue and overexertion.
These basic rules or tips are intended to guide swimmers and reduce recreational injuries through the use of adequate swimming equipment and facilities, adequate supervision and leadership and provision of appropriate swimming information.
Besides, we believe that the frequency and severity of accidents in swimming can be reduced through attention to a number of issues including the following:
1. Never swim alone – use the buddy system.
2. Swim only in areas that are well supervised. Stay within sight.
3. Check all swimming areas carefully before entering the water.
4. If you lack swimming skills, do not go near or in the water without an approved life jacket or Personal Floating Devices (PFDs).
5. Never push or throw anyone into the water.
6. Adjust your body to the temperature of the water slowly by taking a shower, or slashing your body with water.
7. Swim only in areas that are well supervised.
8. Do not swim past safety buoy markers.
9. Determine the depth of the water and check for potential hazards such as drops-offs before swimming in the water.
10. Avoid swimming if you have infectious viruses, skin allergies, or any communicable disease.
11. Do not swim immediately after eating a heavy meal or you may get cramps.
12. Do not swim immediately after drinking alcoholic beverages.
13. Never swim immediately after taking medication.
14. Swimming in rivers and seas poses special risks due to current and debris on the bottom.
15. Overexertion is a major factor contributing to injuries and death. Take frequent rest breaks.
16. Never swim during a thunderstorm or for 15 minutes before or afterward because of possibility of being struck by lightning.
17. Do not run on wet pool decks. Many serious injuries occur when people run on pool decks that are slippery and wet.
18. Stay out of areas used by boaters and surfers.
19. In the ocean, swim with the waves and avoid heavy surf. Always watch out for undertow and stay on the surface of the water.
20. Always acquire the relevant information concerning the water and facilities; and use adequate equipment to swim in it.
Swimming activities are meant to be happy events. Too often, death or injury producing accidents turn these otherwise happy occasions into tragedy. But, by observing these rules and acting upon many of its practical suggestions and advice you can protect the most precious gift you and your family possess: The Gift of LIFE.