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The Top 3 Causes of Drowning (And How You Can Avoid Them)

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Water Safety Guide for Parents

From 2005-2009, there were an average of 10 fatal drownings per day in the U.S. Two out of the ten deaths per day were children. Today in 2013, drowning is still the #2 cause of death for children ages 1-4. (The number 1 cause of death is birth defects.)  Together we can help reduce the risk of drowning for our children. But in order to do that, we must first look deeper into the problem and identify the main causes.

The Center for Disease Control has identified the most common causes of drowning. I have included the top three causes and a guide for parents on how to reduce each risk.

Cause #1: Lack of Children’s Swimming Skills

Today, many children are not able to swim. If your child is among those who are not able to swim, this is a crucial first step towards lowering their risk of drowning. Statistics have proven that taking swimming lessons can reduce a child’s risk of drowning.

Swimming Lessons for Your Child

Swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88% among young children aged 1 to 4 years, who are at greatest risk of drowning. Enroll your child into a swim school, or learn how to teach your child to swim.

Cause #2: Lack of Pool Safety Barriers

Barriers, or the fencing around a pool, prevent kids from entering the pool deck without adult supervision.  A four-sided fence that blocks the pool deck from your home and backyard, reduces a child’s drowning risk by 83 percent! When considering a pool barrier, choose a four-sided fence over a three-sided fence for extra protection.

Make Your Pool (And Your Neighbor’s Pool) Off Limits

Barriers to the pool deck can be helpful with preventing babies and kids from falling into the pool without notice. Make sure your pool fence completely separates your home and yard area from the pool. The fence should be a minimum of four feet tall, and have self-latching gates that open outward, with latches out of the reach of kids and babies. A second option some consider is installing a pool alarm to detect if a child falls into the pool. If you are considering a pool alarm, note that sub-surface alarms tend to be more reliable. Make sure to ask your neighbors if their pool access is protected for children.

Cause #3: Lack of Close Pool Supervision

Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water (such as bathtubs, swimming pools, buckets), and even in the presence of lifeguards. When you are supervising children swimming, make sure you have a clear view of the pool. Also, if a child goes missing, check the bottom of the pool first.

Watch Children in and Around the Water

Select a responsible adult who can swim and knows CPR to watch children who are in or around water – even if a lifeguards is on duty. Having more eyes over children has been proven to decrease the chance of an unseen accident. The supervising parent or adult should not be reading, on the phone or doing any other activity while watching children.


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