Arm yourself with water safety knowledge this Memorial Day weekend Know the warning signs of drowning

Raleigh

As the Memorial Day weekend holiday approaches and the summer swimming season kicks into full gear, Insurance Commissioner and Safe Kids NC Chair Mike Causey reminds parents and caregivers about the importance of water safety to reduce child drownings in pools and all bodies of open water.

“North Carolina summers get pretty hot so it’s tempting for families to spend a lot of time near the water, which is a lot of fun but can also be very dangerous,” said Commissioner Causey. “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.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14.  It is the leading cause of unintentional death in ages 1 to 4.

Most people believe a drowning person involves flailing arms or frantic calls for help, but that scene is often incorrect. Drowning can happen quietly when a helpless person is unable to take in a breath or call for help. The CDC estimates 10% of parents watch their children drown because they don’t know what’s happening.  Rescuers may have as few as 20 seconds to save a person from drowning.

Safe Kids Worldwide has released the following information highlighting the dangers of childhood drowning, with a specific focus on incidents that occur in lakes, rivers, oceans, and other types of open water:

  • Overall, an estimated 1,000 children drown in a single year, 70% 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.

Safe Kids North Carolina reminds parents and caregivers to take the following precautions around pools and open water:

  • Always watch children and never leave them unattended.
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings.
  • Have a charged phone nearby at all times.
  • Know how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Understand the basics of lifesaving so you can assist in an emergency.
  • Install a fence at least four feet high around the perimeter of the pool or spa.
  • Use self-closing and self-latching gates.
  • Ensure all pools and spas have compliant drain covers. Install an alarm on the door leading from the house to the pool.
  • Pay attention to the warning flags at the beach that indicate the possibility of rip currents.
  • Teach children what to do if caught in a rip current. That is, stay calm, don’t fight the current, when free of the current, escape the current by swimming in a direction following the shoreline. If at any time you are unable to reach the shore, draw attention to yourself and call for help.

For more detailed information about water safety, go to www.safekids.org/watersafety or contact Safe Kids NC Director Shannon Bullock at Shannon.bullock@ncdoi.gov.

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