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Drowning: It Can Happen in an Instant

  • Most parents think water safety is first and foremost on their minds whenever they are enjoying summer activities with their kids. But when the unthinkable happens and a child drowns, parents and caregivers have been known to say, “I only looked away for a second.”


    The Younger the Child, the Greater the Risk


    Not including boating incidents, about 10 people die from drowning every day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While drowning is a risk for every age group, National Safety Council statistics point to drowning being the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 1 to 4. Deaths in this age group are mostly due to a child falling into a pool or being left alone in the bathtub.


    Of the 3,600 drownings in 2010, more than 14 percent were children under age 4, according to Injury Facts 2014, the annual statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by NSC. These statistics are in line with Consumer Product Safety Commission reports, which state more than 200 children ages 1 to 14 drowned in pools and spas during summer 2013. Bathtubs, toilets and even buckets also can pose a danger for very young children.


    Distractions Make for Tragedies


    Parents are cautioned all the time about water safety, but drownings still occur. Always be aware and be in the present moment with your children. Following are a few water safety precautions:

    • Never leave your child alone; if you have to leave, take your child with you
    • Enroll children 3 and older in swimming lessons, but remember that lessons don't make your child "drown-proof"
    • Lifeguards aren't babysitters; always keep your eyes on your child
    • Don't let children play around drains and suction fittings
    • Never consume alcohol when operating a boat, and always make sure everyone is wearing approved life jackets
    • Don't underestimate the power of water; even rivers and lakes can have undertows
    • Always have a first aid kit and emergency contacts handy
    • Get training in CPR
    • If a child is missing, check the water first


    The following rules apply to all swimmers:

    • Never swim alone
    • Don't dive into unknown bodies of water
    • Don't push or jump on others
    • Be prepared for an emergency


    Every pool, every lake and every warm summer day holds the possibility of new, fun summer experiences. All you need to add is your undivided attention.

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The National Safety Council saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

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