‘Time to prepare children to ride out calamities’

Dr. Unni Krishnan

Dr. Unni Krishnan  


Expert stresses need to train them in first aid and swimming

Children in the flood-hit regions of Kerala could be trained in swimming and first aid as part of disaster preparedness, Unni Krishnan, director of the emergency health unit of Save the Children, Melbourne, has said.

“We had met the flood-affected children here a few days ago. Some of them told us that they could have helped others if they knew swimming. We have been in discussion with a few planners on whether such sessions [on swimming and first aid] could be organised for the children,” he said here on Monday.

Dr. Krishnan, who had served during health and humanitarian emergencies, often on the frontlines where people struggle with disasters, terror, and extreme weather events, was in town to share his views on the Kerala floods and the post-flood rebuilding exercise.

The expert pointed out that the flood-affected children seemed fearful that the disaster would strike again. “They would like to know more about floods. Some people say do not talk about floods. But that is not the way to deal with it. You have to talk and be prepared,” he said.

Citing the example of disaster preparedness in Cuba, especially in the wake of massive hurricanes hitting the region, Dr. Krishnan said children in that country are trained in swimming from the age of seven. “They are very well prepared to face any disaster,” he added.

Recalling his interaction with the fishermen community in Kerala who had saved hundreds of lives during the floods, Dr. Krishnan said they too had echoed the view that more lives could have been saved if people had received first aid training.

“They had seen many people bleeding after getting injured in the floods. You get the best ideas from them when you talk to them at the time of the disaster itself. They are the real heroes,” he observed.

Maintaining that natural disasters have a binding effect on communities, Dr. Krishnan said floods in the State had brought out the best in people. “They came together. You have to be together in such situations,” he said.

Dr. Krishnan reminded the authorities to step up disaster preparedness systems and ensure early alerts by taking lessons from the devastating floods.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 4:07:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/time-to-prepare-children-to-ride-out-calamities/article25875962.ece

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