STAFF REPORTER

MADRID
DROWNING is the second highest cause of death amongst children in the European Union and more than 70 percent of victims are under the age of four, said Spain's Ministry for Health yesterday.

Francisco Canes, director of the National Association of Accident Victims (DIA) reported that in 2007, 2'596 people drowned in Spain and that every year “between 120 and 150 children under the age of nine die in swimming pools and in the sea.” “The problem is very young children who fall in the water accidentally and don't know how to swim,” explained Carlos Urkia, a Red Cross Health and Safety worker. Canes added that what causes accidents is often being over confident. Adults don't leave children alone in public places, he said, but instead children are left where it is assumed they will be safe.

A child can drown silently - it only takes a few minutes - in water that is only a few centimetres deep. Alberto Garcia Sanz, director of Spain's National School for Rescue and Life-saving said: “It's important to act swiftly - after 4 or 6 minutes, the child will suffer irreversible brain damage.” The emphasis needs to be on prevention he said. The key figure in the event of an accident happening in the water is the lifeguard, he furthered, adding that the problem that life-saving organisations are facing is that each region of the country establishes its own bylaws in relation to the use of public swimming pools.

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