According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent World Report on Child Injury Prevention, more than 25% of all accidental injury deaths among children are due to drowning. While the majority of these occur in low-income and middle-income countries, drowning remains the second leading cause of injury death of children in the United States. Those numbers are sobering and particularly heartbreaking because these deaths are entirely preventable.
While swimming pools remain a major source of danger to children, many drowning deaths and injuries take place near open bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, rivers and oceans. In an effort to raise awareness and reduce those numbers, WHO and UNICEF have formed an international task force made up of drowning prevention experts from 12 countries to establish guidelines for preventing drowning accidents when recreating near or in open water. Based on their recommendations, here are twelve ways to keep yourself and your children safe around open water.
- Learn swimming and water safety survival skills and make sure your children do, too.
- Always swim with others.
- Obey all safety signs and warning flags.
- Never go in the water after drinking alcohol.
- Know how and when to use a life jacket.
- Swim in areas with lifeguards.
- Know the water and weather conditions before getting in the water.
- Always enter shallow and unknown water feet first.
- Set water safety rules for your children.
- Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water.
- Learn first aid and CPR.
- Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.
Don’t let someone you love become a drowning statistic. Get more information on water safety by visiting the Centers for Disease Control’s Water Related Injuries Fact Sheet, Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Drowning Prevention and Water Safety for All Ages, the International Live Saving Federation’s Drowning Report and Safe Kids U.S.A.