I’m yet to fully recover from the sudden and shocking death of three-year-old Ifeanyi Adeleke, son of singer, David Adeleke, a.k.a Davido. If there is one death that brought grief to so many Nigerians, that of Ifeanyi stood out as one. Handsome, with an innocence that is endearing, Ifeanyi did not deserve to die at such a young age under such unfortunate circumstance. Even when his death was confirmed by the police, many were still hopeful that he was in coma and a miracle could still happen. But who are we to question God? I only hope and pray that Davido and Chioma will come out of this ordeal stronger and will be able to move on without much damage to their mental health. I am a parent and I know how it feels to lose a loved one.
His tragic death through drowning won’t be the first to be heard among rich Nigerian superstars who have decided to add a swimming pool to their homes as one of those luxurious items to have for their maximum comfort.
In June 2018, another music legend, D’banj, also lost his one-year-old son, Daniel Oyebanjo under similar circumstances. The toddler drowned in a pool at the singer’s residence in Ikoyi. D’banj was in Los Angeles attending the 2018 BET Awards when death snuck into his home to snatch away his precious son.
These unfortunate incidents have created a debate over the point of having a swimming pool installed at home. While some say having one is okay, they expressed regret that the major casualties have been children below the age of five. Due to their hyperactive nature, they are most curious about water and not aware of the danger it poses to them. The same phenomenon is rampant in the United States of America and other countries of the world.
Drowning is still the leading cause of death by unintentional injury in kids aged one through five in the U.S., according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is also a leading cause of accidental death for those aged five to 19. Indeed, nearly 900 children die every year in the U.S alone and thousands more suffer non-fatal injuries – from incidents in pools, oceans, lakes, streams, bathtubs, and even buckets of water. However, the majority of young children who drown do so in home swimming pools.
While pools are an easy way to keep kids entertained for hours, it must be remembered that water has no mercy. “Having an unfenced pool is like having an uncaged lion in your backyard,” says Morgan Miller, wife of Olympian, Bode Miller, and mom of Emmy, whose tragic death at 19 months in a friend’s pool catapulted childhood drowning into the national spotlight in that part of the world. “To a child, that big furry animal could look like something fun to play with. It’s appealing and tempting. But we, as adults know that a lion is deadly and can kill your child.”
“Thankfully, all of us have the power to keep kids safe. Indeed, as parents, we need to discuss the dangers involved in dipping into the water with our kids. We should talk to them about all aspects of water safety. That is to those kids that are old enough to understand the danger lurking in that inviting water. But to those that are still young, to keep them safe is the responsibility of we adults and we should not shy away from that task.
“The real danger, however, is the fact that nearly 70 per cent of childhood drownings happen when kids aren’t swimming; they may wander over to a neighbour’s yard, slip through an unlocked back door during playtime, or tumble into the pool while wandering about.
We should let them know that it is not right to go in or near the water without a grown-up adult around. Again, if, during a family gathering, the kids want to swim, it is mandatory to appoint a parent as a ‘water watcher’ to be on the lookout for the kids. When everybody’s watching, nobody’s watching. That’s why safety organisations urge parents and caregivers to take turns being on official “water-watching duty” in group-swim situations.
Aside from that, it is also important to know what a child in distress looks like. Kids drown silently and quickly, often when they are vertical in the water with their heads tipped back. Unlike what you see in movies, a child rarely splashes, flails their arms, or yells for help. Being a good water watcher is like being a good lifeguard. Once selected as a water watcher, you must put away your phones and concentrate on the kids. Again, with a swimming pool at home, it is mandatory to have an emergency plan in place. Know a little bit about basic CPR and actions you must take immediately if there is a crisis. Even if a child doesn’t need CPR after being submerged, having water in their lungs can still lead to serious trouble. Watch out for coughing, lethargy, and rapid breathing, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s doctor.
If you do have a swimming pool at home, also consider surrounding it with a fence, covering it when not in use, and removing the steps or ladder once swim time is over.
Install a fence that is at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through. Make sure that the gate leading to your pool is self-closing and self-latching, and that it opens out. Latches should be above a child’s reach, and the space between the bottom of the fence and the ground should be less than 4 inches. Never prop open a gate to the pool area.
Kids are fast, curious, and mobile, and will always want to explore their surroundings. It is our duty as adults to ensure that we watch over them like an eagle and ensure that they are safe at all times.
While the swimming pool has become a necessary evil at home for kids, the bathtub has also turned out to be a killer of most adults and the elderly in our society. The combination of bathtubs and tiles in toilets has sent many to their early graves in Nigeria. I took a conscious decision while constructing my residence not to have a bathtub at home. Though Madam of the house kicked against the idea, I stood my ground after series of explanations to convince her failed. My stand was due to what Prince Bola Ajibola went through at that time.
Prince Ajibola, former Justice Minister and Attorney-General, had slipped and had six of his ribs broken while having a bath in a bathtub. That was in 2002. He survived, after being flown abroad for medical treatment. He survived because people were in the house at the time he fell and help was quickly rendered both in Nigeria and outside the country. Luckily for him, money for such expensive treatment was not a problem.
If Prince Ajibola was lucky, a former Nigerian ambassador to the UK, Ambassador J.T. Kolo was not that lucky as he died from injury he sustained after slipping in his bathroom. Ambassador Kolo was by himself when the incident occurred and there was no one to rescue him. He was found dead hours later by a domestic staff inside his Minna, Niger State home. He was 74.
Another person who did not survive her bathroom fall due to a slippery tub and wet tiles was the wife of former Police IGP, Micheal Okiro. Hera Okiro slipped and fell in a freak accident in her bathroom. At the time of her death, Mrs. Okiro was only 61 years old.
Also, the entertainment industry recorded a similar disaster as Nollywood star, Uduak Akrah in August 2018, died from an injury she sustained when she fell after taking her bath. Though she was rushed to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, she eventually gave up the ghost.
Former United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, however, survived her fall in the bathtub, but not without fracturing a bone. Hillary was in India on a visit when she slipped and fractured her wrist in the bathtub at a five-star resort where she was staying. She was taken to a hospital in the city of Jodphur where she underwent an X-ray and a CT scan that confirmed a hairline fracture of her right wrist.
Not to be caught off guard, a businessman, based in Benin, Edo State, Daniel Kings, vowed that he would not fix tiles in his bathroom when he has resources to build a house for himself. “From what happened to one of my neighbours in my former house and the stories I hear from time to time, I have vowed not to have anything to do with tiles in my bathroom. It is beautiful but it has killed many people and put many others in pain. I cannot use my money to buy what will kill me or any member of my family. God forbid,” he said.
But Mr. Jolayemi Ayobami, who deals in building materials in Atan, Ogun State, said many domestic accidents were a result of the wrong use of tiles by the tilers handling the job.
“This is my 14th year in this business. Tiles come in various sizes and shapes. Some of the surfaces are rough while others are very smooth. It is the duty of the tiler or builder to choose which of the tiles is appropriate on the floor or in the bathroom.
“But what we usually witness is people going for beautiful and fancy tiles without considering the implications when fixed on the floor. But building professionals with years of experience know the right materials for the right position.
“I heard of a woman who slipped right in her sitting room, fell, and hit her head on a pillar. The woman died on the spot. It was later discovered that her granddaughter who came visiting poured water on the floor, which the unsuspecting grandma stepped on. Adults could be that careful, but what about children who are always playful and carefree?
“Sometimes, you can blame those handling the buildings, some other times, some property owners readily settle for cheap building materials in order to cut costs. This often happens when the project is meant to be rented out by the owner.
“Thank God that we now have tiles that are not slippery, even if you pour water or other liquid contents on them. Although the designs are more expensive, it is better that house owners go for them to avert dangers of any kind, “Ayobami said.
While the swimming pools, bathtubs and tiles are all modern-day amenities to give us comfort at home, we should be careful and have it at the back of our minds that they could be potential agents of death. The only way to enjoy the comfort they offer is by ensuring that we do the right things at all times and observe all safety precautions so that they would not become a source of sorrow to us at any age.
May the soul of Ifeanyi rest in peace.
See you next week.