As the summer swimming season kicks into full gear, Safe Kids North Carolina, a statewide program housed within the North Carolina Department of Insurance and Office of State Fire Marshal, is reminding parents and caregivers about important safety tips to reduce child drownings.
“On these warm summer days in North Carolina, many families will be drawn to activities near water,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, chair of Safe Kids North Carolina. “We want parents and caregivers to be particularly cautious and take steps to avoid any potential tragedies in swimming pools and other bodies of water.”
Safe Kids Worldwide and Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program have released a new report highlighting the dangers of childhood drowning, with a specific focus on incidents that occur in lakes, rivers, oceans, and other types of open water.
Key findings of the research include:
Overall, an estimated 1,000 children drown in a single year, 70 percent of them between May and August.
An additional 7,000 children end up in the emergency room because of a drowning scare. That means a minimum of 150 families a week are impacted by a tragic or frightening event.
Most often those drownings take place in open water. A 10-year-old, for example, is three times more likely to drown in open water than in a pool. Older teens are more than eight times more likely to die as a result of an open water drowning than a pool drowning.
Boys are at greatest risk: Eight in 10 open water drowning victims are males.
African American children are twice as likely to drown in open water than their white counterparts. American Indian children are at even higher risk.
Between 2015 and 2016, there was a 14 percent increase in drownings. The 1,002 drownings in 2016 (latest data available) was the highest number in five years. Most of those drownings occurred in lakes, rivers, oceans, and other types of open water.
Safe Kids North Carolina reminds parents and caregivers to take the following precautions around the water:
Homeowners should put up a fence that is at least 4-feet high around all sides of a pool or spa with a locking gate that closes and latches by itself. Homeowners should cover and lock pools and spas when they are not using them, and remove or lock ladders to above-ground pools and spas when not in use.
Adults and caregivers must always watch children — whether the children know how to swim or not — when kids are in or near water without being distracted by phone calls, text messages, reading or talking to others. If a child is missing, look in the water first.
Children and adults should know how to swim. Adults should learn how to use rescue equipment and correctly choose and use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Caregivers should learn adult and infant CPR and teach children to never swim alone or swim near pool or spa drains.
For more detailed information about the water safety, go to https://www.safekids.org/water-safety or contact Safe Kids NC Director Shannon Bullock at 919.647.0081.