As we enter the summer months, the need to stay cool has families flocking to the beach and public and residential swimming pools. Unfortunately, as the number of swimmers increases, so does the number of unfortunate swimming accidents and drowning incidents.
According to the CDC, over 3,500 people on average drowned each year in the United States between 2005 and 2009. About 1 in 5 people who die from drowning is a child under the age of 14. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal underwater injuries. Among children ages 1 to 4, most drowning incidents occur in home swimming pools.
To prevent these tragic accidents, you should know the most common causes of drowning and how to prevent these situations.
- Lack of swimming ability.
The most common cause of drowning is not knowing how to swim. Many adults and children will attempt to get into the water without proper swim training. Formal water safety and swimming lessons under the supervision of a lifeguard can dramatically decrease the risk of drowning.
- No barriers around the pool.
A four-sided fence separating the pool area from the house and yard reduces a child’s risk of drowning by 83%. While installing a fence may not be cheap, it is certainly worth the life of a child. The fence should have a locking mechanism and be tall enough to prevent wandering children from entering the pool area.
- Lack of supervision.
Drowning can happen anywhere there is water. Never leave a child unattended in or near a bathtub, pool, pond, or even a bucket of water. There should always be a lifeguard on duty or a competent supervising adult. Never swim alone and follow the 10/20 rule: scan the area every 10 seconds and always be able to reach the water within 20 seconds.
- Failure to wear life jackets.
72% of boating deaths that occurred during 2010 were caused by drowning, with 88% of victims not wearing life jackets. When boating, you should always have enough life jackets – adult and child-sized – for every person on the boat. Life jackets should be readily accessible and in good shape. It is best to insist everyone wear a life jacket at all times. You never know when an accident could occur.
- Alcohol use.
Alcohol use is involved in about 70% of water-related deaths among adolescents and adults. One in five boating deaths involves alcohol, according to the CDC. Alcohol affects your balance, coordination, judgment, and basic motor skills. Your ability to swim may be severely limited under the influence of alcohol, and you may not be able to accurately judge how long or how far you can swim. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or other water activities. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.
Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury and death in the United States. Keep you and your family safe by following safety rules and participating in formal swimming and water safety lessons.
For more information regarding drowning and other unintentional injuries, contact the legal team at George Sink, P.A Injury Lawyers.