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Drowning: It Can Happen in an Instant
Not including boating incidents, on average about ten people die from drowning every day in the United States, according to Injury Facts® the annual statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by the National Safety Council.
The USA Swimming Foundation reports nearly 90 children younger than 15 drowned in a pool or spa from January through May 2018, and every year about 19 children drown during the July 4 holiday. CPSC also reports:
74% of drowning incidents for children younger than 15 between 2015 and 2017 occurred in residential locations
Boys younger than 15 die from drowning at twice the rate as girls
351 children younger than 15 died in pools and spas in 2015
Emergency departments treat about 6,400 pool and spa injuries in children younger than 15 every year
Teens and Young Adults Often Don't Think About Water Safety
While drowning deaths peak among one and two year olds, drownings continue to be the second leading cause of preventable death through age 15. According to NSC research, 353 people ages 5 to 24 drowned in 2017.
Swimmers should keep a few safety precautions in mind:
Don't go in the water unless you know how to swim; swim lessons are available for all ages
Never swim alone
Learn CPR and rescue techniques
Make sure the body of water matches your skill level; swimming in a pool is much different than swimming in a lake or river, where more strength is needed to handle currents
If you do get caught in a current, don't try to fight it; stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free
Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard
Don't push or jump on others
Don't dive in unfamiliar areas
Never drink alcohol when swimming; alcohol is involved in about half of all male teen drownings, according to KidsHealth.org
The Younger the Child, the Greater the Risk
Most parents think water safety is first and foremost on their minds whenever they are enjoying summer activities with their young kids. But when the unthinkable happens, caregivers often say, “I only looked away for a second.”
NSC statistics point to drowning as a leading cause of death for young children – mostly due to children falling into a pool or being left alone in the bathtub. Of the 3,709 drownings in 2017, more than 12% were children age 4 and younger, according to Injury Facts. Bathtubs, toilets and even buckets also can pose a danger for very young children.
Distractions Make for Tragedies
Parents are cautioned all the time about water safety, but drownings still occur. Always be aware and be in the present moment with your children. Following are a few water safety precautions:
Never leave your child alone; if you have to leave, take your child with you
Find age-appropriate swim lessons for your child, but keep in mind that lessons do not make your child "drown-proof"
Lifeguards aren't babysitters; always keep your eyes on your child
Don't let children play around drains and suction fittings
Never consume alcohol when operating a boat, and always make sure everyone is wearing U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets
Don't underestimate the power of water; even rivers and lakes can have undertows
Always have a first aid kit and emergency contacts handy
Get training in CPR
If a child is missing, check the water first
Every pool, every lake and every warm summer day holds the possibility of new, fun summer experiences. All you need to add is your undivided attention.