Establishment of Water Activity Safety Network to Protect Students Undertaking Water Activities
In order to make teachers, students and parents pay attention to water activity safety and prevent drowning of students undertaking water activities, the Ministry of Education has performed in-depth analysis of incidents of student drowning between 2005 and 2008 and coordinated related central government agencies, local governments, schools and private organizations to work together to establish water activity safety network to protect students from water activity accidents.
Statistics and analysis reveal among the 278 students who drowned between 2005 and 2008, elementary schoolchildren accounted for 43.5%, the highest of all education levels. At the same time, the number of accidents that took place between June and August was 52.8%, the highest frequency through the year. Saturdays and Sundays were the days when 40.65% of these tragic events happened, while 81% of them occurred in the afternoon. 75.2% of these cases were children who went out with friends with no adult supervision and 62.6% of them happened in creeks, rivers and the ocean. Up till May 17, there were already 14 student drowning accidents in 2009 and 12 students had died.
To prevent such mishaps from taking place again, the Ministry of Education has established the framework of the Student Water Activity Safety Network. It is divided into three parts, namely prevention, response and recovery. The related measures require the cooperation of competent authorities in the central and local governments, schools, as well as private organizations. Only with joint efforts of different agencies and organizations will it be possible to minimize the rate of drowning of students. As a result, the Ministry of Education has officially requested direct city and county (city) governments to coordinate concerned agencies to warn students against dangerous waters and take up preventive measures. Execution strategies include conduct statistic analysis of student drowning accidents to work out preventive measures, revise student swimming skill evaluation criteria and, above all, teach students how to rescue themselves, produce water activity safety teaching films and related F&Q databases, and instruct students in school on water activity safety. At the same time, revise swimming coaching materials and approaches, train teachers, perfect water lifesaving skills and know-how. Also, hold student water lifesaving competitions to reinforce lifesaving concepts and needed skills.
The "Water Activity Safety Information Web" at the Ministry of Education offers references for teaching students to develop their swimming skills and upgrade their knowledge of water safety and self-rescue capacity. Schools at every level have been requested to teach water self-rescue skills (including jellyfish float, back float and open-arm float) as top priority in PE class. The Ministry has also made plans to promote the "Student Swimming Skill 121 Program" to increase the number of schools offering swimming coaching, minimize student drowning, and increase the number of students taking swimming lessons.
Taiwan is surrounded by ocean. Undertaking water leisure activities, paying attention to water activity safety, practicing water lifesaving skills are important objectives of marine education in school. Students' knowledge of water activity safety and water self-rescue skills are among the basic things that students ought to be taught in school.
With summer just around the corner, water activity frequencies are rising. The Ministry of Education urges parents and students to look out for their safety in outings. In particular, choose a safety spot for water activities and do not get near any place dangerous. Do not overlook any possible hazards. Students should have the company of their parents and should not go out on their own. Emergency phone numbers:
- Emergency rescue: 119
- Cell phone emergency number: 112
- Police: 110
- Coast guard rescue hotline: 118
- Ministry of The Interior Fire Department Disaster Prevention Web - mountain-climbing and water accident prevention: http://184.108.40.206/nfa_k/
- Executive Yuan National Disaster Prevention and Protection Commission Disaster Prevention Digital Learning Web - things to notice in water activities: http://220.127.116.11/elearning/