Drowning #1 Cause For Unintentional Injury Death For Kids 1 to 4 Years Of Age

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Summer is here, which means millions of people hit the pools, beaches, and lakes to cool off and take in the sun. The nation’s emergency physicians strongly advise all parents and guardians to get their children familiar with water — specifically teaching them to swim safely as early as possible.

“It only takes a few seconds and a few inches of water for a child to drown,” said Dr. Jay Kaplan, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “While it’s impossible to predict and prevent every scenario, you can take steps to protect kids, stay safe and still enjoy the water.”

Facts about Drowning

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death among children between 1 and 4 years of age, with almost 400 cases reported in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Young children aren’t the only ones affected. Every day about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Overall, it ranks fifth for unintentional injury death in the United States. More than 50 percent of drowning victims who are treated at emergency departments require extended hospitalization or long-term care.

Several factors can contribute to a person drowning and obviously not all of them can be controlled. However, steps can be taken to keep a child and even an adult safe as possible when near or in the water.

Ways to Stay Safe

  • Supervise Young Children — They must be watched at all times when near water. It can take only a matter of seconds for a child to accidentally drown when an adult turns away.
  • Learn to Swim — Formal swim lessons can protect people, especially young children from drowning.
  • Learn CPR — It can take paramedics several minutes to arrive. Having CPR skills often times can mean the difference between life and death or permanent brain damage.
  • Use the Buddy System — Never swim alone. Always be with someone. Swim in areas that have lifeguards on duty if possible.
  • Don’t Drink and Swim — Drinking alcohol while on a boat or swimming in the water can severely impair a person’s judgment and cognitive skills. Also, never drink alcohol while supervising children.
  • Use Life Jackets — When on a boat, make sure the number of (Coast Guard approved) life jackets match the number of passengers on the boat and that they are easily accessible in case of emergency. Young children
  • should have a life vest on at all times in a boat, or in the water. Potentially half of all boating deaths might be prevented with the use of life jackets.
  • Air-Filled or Foam Toys Not Safety Devices — These toys are not substitutes for life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
  • Be Aware of Weather Conditions — If strong winds or heavy thunderstorms and lightning roll in, get out of the water and seek shelter immediately.
  • Understand Waves and Rip Currents — If on the beach, watch for dangerous waves and rip currents. If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore. Once free of the current, swim toward the shore.
  • Don’t Overestimate Your Swimming Ability — Everyone has limits, even the most experienced of swimmers.
  • For more information on drowning or other health-related topics, please go to www.EmergencyCareForYou.org.

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