PETALING JAYA: On Sunday, what was supposed to be a fun outing at a waterfall for two friends turned tragic when they slipped and fell 10 metres in Kuala Kubu Baru, 70km from here.
In the incident, Dayana Shafiqah Zainudin, 24, lost her life after she hit her head on a rock, while her friend, Aisyah Farina Zaidi, 24, landed in the water and broke her shoulder bone.
In Selangor alone, state Fire and Rescue Department Assistant Director (operations) Mohd Sani Harul told FMT the department sees at least one such incident every two months, with emergency services being summoned when people fall or drown.
Safety Activist Captain K Balasupramaniam believes that more can and should be done to address safety risks at waterfalls.
He said local councils and the Federal Village Security and Development Committees (JKKP) could form volunteer emergency response teams based at popular waterfalls, especially during peak periods, in case of emergencies.
Balasupramaniam, who is chairman of the Malaysian Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (MVFRA), said that aside from emergencies, these volunteer teams could also focus on safety, health and environmental issues.
“They could look out for safety red flags, including slippery or dangerous parts of a trail or look out for trees which may be rotting and about to fall,” he said, adding they could also guide visitors along the more tricky parts of a trail.
He added that the teams could also look out for areas where safety improvements could be made, such as putting up warning signs and even carrying out minor enforcement work.
“There are many people who go to the waterfalls for a picnic and leave leftovers instead of disposing of them properly. This attracts pests, such as rats, and they bring about other health issues and diseases.”
Balasupramaniam said having such teams would also benefit the local communities.
“When people know that a popular waterfall has better safety and security, they will flock there as it helps provide some peace of mind. This brings economic benefits for the surrounding community.”
Consumer rights activist Nadzim Johan echoed similar sentiments, urging the authorities to develop guidelines for waterfalls and to equip popular waterfalls with facilities such as toilets and medical kits.
Nadzim, who is the lead activist of Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia (PPIM), said the authorities could also have some form of registry at all the popular waterfalls to keep track of who goes in and out so that everyone is accounted for at all times.
“Perhaps at popular waterfalls, where many people visit, the authorities can station one or two trained rangers to patrol and help in emergency situations.”
He said a shorter response time could be the difference between life and death in many cases.