It’s a leisurely summer afternoon. A young girl plays in her backyard pool, while her family and their friends are distracted by music, conversation, and smells from the grill. The adults seem unaware that their inattentiveness could cause tragedy at any moment.
Everyone assumes that someone else is paying attention to the kids in the pool, or maybe that the kids can handle their own in the water. Suddenly and nearly silently, this young girl slips under the water. With little sound and barely any splashing, no one seems to notice.
The Epidemic of Unintentional Drowning
Each day in the U.S., approximately 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Even more heartbreaking: Two of the 10 are children no older than 14.
Drowning ranks as the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury and death in the country. Consider these facts:
- Between 2005 and 2014, there were 3,536 unintentional and non-boating-related drownings in America.
- For every child who dies due to drowning, another five will visit the emergency room for nonfatal submersion injuries.
- More than half of those ER cases will be hospitalized or transferred to another care facility. That’s compared to a hospitalization rate of six percent for all unintentional injuries.
Nonfatal drowning injuries can cause extreme brain damage and serious long-term disabilities, including memory problems, loss of basic functioning (otherwise known as being in a permanent vegetative state), and learning disabilities.
May is National Water Safety Month
With so many sobering statistics, it is easy to see the importance of water safety. The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals coordinates this annual awareness campaign in partnership with the American Red Cross, National Recreation and Park Association, and World Waterpark Association.
Their aim is to encourage safer water practices to prevent drownings and water-related injuries.
Now in its 9th year, National Water Safety Month has garnered the attention of the governors of every state; each signed water safety proclamations in recent years.
Olympic swimmers have also joined the cause, bringing attention to the importance of swimming lessons and public education regarding safe practices for adults and kids.
Water Safety Tips
These National Water Safety Month tips from can help keep you and your family safer in and around the water:
- Everyone should learn to swim. Survival swimming lessons can be taken by kids as young as six months. This is perhaps the single best way to remain safe around the water.
- Only swim in designated areas that are staffed by lifeguards.
- Learn how to properly perform CPR.
- Actively supervise children whenever they are around water. Do not get distracted while supervising children.
- Follow the posted safety rules. Read and discuss them with children upon arrival to the pool or beach.
- All non-swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. This applies to people who are not comfortable in the water or who are in open bodies of water.
- Install barriers, such as pool covers, child alarms, self-locking gates, and fencing to prevent unsupervised access.
How You Can Help
You can spread the word about National Water Safety Month:
- Visit the National Water Safety Month Facebook page to like, share, and comment.
- Take part in the 2016 World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, a global event hosted by hundreds of swimming venues this June.
- Use classrooms to promote water safety by distributing water safety materials, encouraging children to take the water safety pledge, and hanging Water Safety Month posters.
- Host a water safety fair in conjunction with other community partners, such as your local YMCA, swimming/triathlon studio, fire department, etc.
National Water Safety Month provides a timely reminder that many water-related injures and tragedy can be prevented. Take action today.