Drowning deaths aren’t as widely publicized as traffic fatalities, but they are arguably more dangerous for young children. Indeed, the CDC now claims that drowning is the most common cause of death for children younger than four. However, even at 14, drowning remains one of the top three risks for child fatalities and injuries, especially at home swimming pools.
The Red Cross now estimates at least ten unintentional drowning deaths happen every day in the USA. Of these ten fatalities, at least two are children younger than 14. Current CDC data suggest there are roughly 4,000 drowning fatalities in America each year. Of these fatalities, at least 80 percent are male.
The CDC also points out that over 8,000 Americans are seriously injured in drowning accidents each year. Often, nonfatal drowning accidents require emergency care and could result in long-term health conditions.
For many, drowning is a swift and silent killer. In fact, Hackensack Meridian Health claims it only takes 20 seconds underwater for a child to drown. Most healthy adults could die from drowning within 40 seconds.
Since a drowning death could happen so fast, people must put as many preventative measures in place beforehand. Whether you’re near a pool, tub, or lake, these preventative steps are proven to reduce the risk of drowning-related fatalities.
Five Ways To Decrease The Risk Of Drowning Accidents
Start Early With Formal Swimming Training
Understandably, there’s a strong correlation between a person’s swimming skill and their risk of drowning. Indeed, recent data from the National Institutes of Health shows that children who learn to swim have an 88 percent lower chance of drowning.
According to the YMCA, there’s never a “bad time” to enroll a child in a formal swimming program. Parents could even take part in special infant-approved lessons to get toddlers acclimated to the water.
Ideally, children should start a swimming program between the age of one to four. However, it’s OK to enroll children who are older in a beginner swimming course. As long as children learn how to swim at some point, it will reduce the odds of drowning.
Put Borders Between You And Your Pool
Anyone who has a pool on their property should put up a four-sided barrier. According to the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center, houses that enclose their pool with four-sided fences have far fewer drowning accidents than those with just three sides or less. Indeed, researchers estimate homes with four-sided barriers had ~ 80 percent fewer drowning fatalities.
Homeowners who don’t already have a strong border around their pool should seriously consider renovating if they have a few kiddos.
Find An Age-Appropriate Life Vest
Even if people feel comfortable in the water, they should never forget life vests on boating trips. Recent reports out of the US Coast Guard claim at least 70 percent of boating deaths are related to drowning. Greater than 80 percent of the people who drowned in these cases weren’t wearing a life vest.
According to the National Park Service, everyone should wear a well-fitting life jacket when doing anything near water. However, only those who feel comfortable swimming should opt for inflatable life vests. People who are poor swimmers should focus on foam or hybrid models better suited for their skill level.
Always Avoid Alcohol
Everyone knows not to drink alcohol while driving, but it’s important to recognize the dangers of drinking booze near water. CDC data shows alcohol-related drowning deaths are pretty common. Health authorities claim alcohol is a factor in at least 70 percent of drowning-related deaths. ER data also indicates that at least one in four drowning patients had some alcohol in their system.
If adults are going to enjoy alcohol near a pool or on the beach, they must ensure there’s a CPR-trained lifeguard nearby. It’s never a good idea to drink while participating in water sports, but especially if there’s no lifeguard on duty.
Keep Toddlers Out Of The Toilet!
Although the CDC claims home pools are the most common site for childhood drowning deaths, serious accidents could occur in a residential bathroom. Indeed, the Consumer Product Safety Commission discovered roughly 100 children drown in bathtubs or toilets each year. The Mayo Clinic also claims infants and toddlers could die in as little as one inch of water.
To avoid these tragic cases, parents should get in the habit of closing their bathroom door with a child-proof latch. There are also child-proof locks that attach to standard toilet seats.
Mayo Clinic doctors also recommend keeping empty buckets inside, so there’s no risk of them accumulating water. Most significantly, parents should never leave their baby unattended in the bathtub, and they should always drain the tub immediately after bath time is over.
Raise Drowning Awareness Year-Round!
“Drowning Awareness Month” is officially in May, but lifeguards always urge people to take proactive steps to minimize the risk of drowning. While early swimming lessons are a science-backed strategy, there are ways non-swimmers could still enjoy water activities without a dramatic risk of drowning. Most significantly, poor swimmers should make use of life vests and paddleboards whenever going near the water. It’s also crucial for everyone who takes part in water-related activities to refrain from alcohol.
Following all these safety tips should dramatically reduce everyone’s risk of drowning.