Older children between 5 and 12 years are most at risk of drowning, not toddlers as commonly thought, says a new Singapore study.
KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) found that older youngsters have a growing sense of independence that leads them to take more risks, while they are not as carefully supervised.
The findings published in The Straits Times said that drowning was the second most common cause of death by unintentional injury in children, while road accidents emerged first.
"We should do more in Singapore to prevent drowning," Teo Ho Pin, adviser to the National Water Safety Taskforce, was quoted as saying. Unless water safety is taken seriously, "our efforts to prevent drowning will be in vain".
From February 2002 to January 2004, the latest statistics available, Singapore emergency departments saw 38 cases of children drowning or nearly drowning, the report said.
Of these, nearly 20 took place at swimming pools, both public and private, and claimed the lives of two children.
The sea accounted for eight incidents in which five children died. Two other fatalities occurred in canals.
A double tragedy occurred earlier this month in the city-state when two boys, aged 15 and 16, drowned after swimming out to sea.