Larry Crisp, Bloemfontein: Safety first when it comes to water. The Lion Air passenger plane that crashed in the sea off the Indonesian coast near Jakarta last month, killing all 189 passengers, reminded me how much we underestimate water. One would think that water is soft, and that when you crash into it, one would land gently. However, that is far from the truth.What many people do not know is that the surface tension of water makes hitting it at a high speed equivalent of hitting solid concrete. Therefore, we should all treat water with the respect it deserves, whether diving into it or swimming in it. It is unfortunate that many people lose their lives to drowning.Most drowning incidents occur due to people’s inability to swim and their panic in water.Drowning remains one of the top causes of unnatural childhood deaths in South Africa. For every life of a child that perishes due to drowning, five children involved in a near drowning experience are left with permanent brain damage. It takes only four minutes without oxygen for irreversible brain damage to occur. Statistics indicate that every day more than one child dies in South Africa due to drowning. The following are some of the safety rules to follow when near water: Do not let children go near swimming pools without supervision. Only fish in designated fishing areas and always with adult supervision. Do not walk or play on bridges or with gates near canals. Do not fetch water from rivers and canals. Do not perform ritual practices along rivers. Report children playing near rivers. Stay away from canal banks, because they can be muddy and slippery. The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) observes a Canal Awareness Campaign during June. The importance of water safety is communicated throughout the country to purposely try to curb the number of individuals who die due to drowning. Spring and summer are seasons during which many people travel to locations that have rivers, beaches and swimming pools. The department implores everyone to be careful around water and take special care that children do not play unsupervised.