What do the facts on unintentional drowning mean to you? According to the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), about ten people die every day from unintentional drowning. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 14, behind vehicle accidents.

Drowning is a big problem.

  • From 2005-2009, there are an average of 3,533 fatal, unintentional, non-boating related drownings annually in the United States. That means about ten drowning deaths per day.
  • About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.
  • For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
  • More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with a hospitalization rate of about 6% for all unintentional injuries). These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).

What does this mean?

It means that our children are at great risk.

While nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male, it is children aged 1 to 4 years who have the highest drowning rates. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among this group of children than any other cause except birth defects. Among those under 14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes.

Lack of swimming ability is at the top of the CDC’s list of factors that affect drowning risk. But the course of this trend and these frightening statistics can be altered by taking pretty simple and straight-forward action. Just learn to swim and make sure children learn to swim.

What has research found?

Research tells us that taking part in formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning among children aged 1 to 4 years. A child that has had formal swim lessons is 88% less likely to drown.

The CDC has found that: • Younger adults reported greater swimming ability than older adults. • Self-reported ability increased with level of education. • Among racial groups, African Americans reported the most limited swimming ability. • Men of all ages, races, and educational levels consistently reported greater swimming ability than women.

Make sure you are not one of these statistics by taking swimming lessons, if you don’t already know how to swim.

Become knowledgeable and use precautions.

Other ways to make sure you’re prepared for a water emergency are to learn CPR and take water-related precautions.

  • Seconds count. CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to save lives and improve outcomes in drowning victims. The more quickly CPR is started, the better the chance of improved outcomes. • The simplest and most effective precaution for drowning is providing life jackets. Life jackets can reduce risk. Potentially, half of all boating deaths might be prevented with the use of life jackets.

In and around the water.

  • Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch supervision”, be close enough to reach the child at all times. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present. • Always swim with a buddy. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible. • If you or a family member has a seizure disorder, provide one-on-one supervision around water, including swimming pools. Consider taking showers rather than using a bath tub for bathing. Wear life jackets when boating.

The CDC says that most importantly, everyone should learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water, and barriers, such as pool fencing to prevent unsupervised access, are still important. Adults, regardless of other physical abilities, are no help to a child in distress in the water unless they too can swim.

SOURCE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Post Author: Sam Hucke

Drowning Stats and our Children
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