Summer is here (finally!) and it’s time to think about safety around water! In the pool, at the beach, or in the bathtub, water can be fun, and also dangerous for kids. Drowning can happen any time of year, but during the warmer summer months, the number of drownings and near-drownings skyrockets. The majority of drownings and near-drownings occur in residential swimming pools. However, children can drown in as little as one inch of water. Young children are at risk of drowning in wading pools, bathtubs, buckets, diaper pails, toilets, spas, and hot tubs. Older children are more likely to drown in open water sites, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans.
- Drowning is the third leading cause of injury-related death in children 14 and under and is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-4.
- Each year, about 5,000 children ages 14 and under are hospitalized due to near-drownings.
- Near-drownings have high fatality rates. 15% of children admitted to hospitals die in the hospital. About 20% of survivors suffer severe, permanent brain damage.
- A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child 4 and under.
- Approximately 10 percent of childhood drownings occur in bathtubs; the majority of these occur in the absence of an adult.
- Each year approximately 375 children under age 4 drown in swimming pools. More than half of these drownings occur in the child’s home pool.
- The majority of children who drown in home swimming pools were last seen in the home and had been missing from sight for less than 5 minutes.
- A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone.
- Drowning rates are higher in southern and western states than in other regions of the US. Rural areas have higher death rates than urban or suburban areas, in part due to decreased access to emergency medical care.
What YOU can do to prevent children from DROWNING:
- NEVER leave a child unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
- Put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you need to do, and give young children 100% of your attention when they are near or around water.
- Empty all buckets, tubs, containers, and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.
- Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
- Teach kids never to swim alone.
- Never leave a gate to the pool open.
- Always stay in the bathroom when children are bathing. Never leave them, not even for one minute.
- Have a fence at least 5 feet high that separates the pool from the house. Have gates that close and latch automatically.
- Check neighbors fences if they have pools.
- Make sure kids take swimming lessons when they are ready, usually around age 4.
Remember that drowning is a “silent killer.” When children are drowning, they do not usually splash around and yell for help. They just quietly inhale water and drown. This is why is so important to WATCH children carefully around water. So keep these things in mind when you take a bunch of kids to the pool or beach. Make sure that water is fun and SAFE!