There’s nothing like spending a hot Texas summer day lounging in a pool, lake or river. However, as families head to the water this summer to cool off, it’s important that they remember the importance of practicing good water safety.
Who is Most at Risk from Drowning?
According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide with an estimated 360,000 deaths from drowning each year. Each day in the United States, 10 people drown. Of these, two are 14 years old or younger.
Often, young children are the most at risk of drowning because infants and toddlers can end up face down in shallow water just one or two inches deep, and drown in a matter of seconds. In fact, according to Dr. Mark Muir, trauma medical director at University Hospital and assistant professor at UT Health San Antonio, drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children ages 1 to 4.
“The single most important thing I can tell parents this summer is if your kids are near water, not just in the water, but around water, whether it’s a pool, lake or river, is that an adult has to be keeping an eye on that child at all times.” Dr. Muir said.
While young children are more at risk from drowning in shallower water, teenage and adult men are at higher risk of drowning due to reckless behavior and not taking proper water safety precautions.
“The statistics actually demonstrate unfortunately that men drown more often particularly as adults and teenagers,” said Dr. Craig Cooley, a University Hospital emergency medical physician and assistant professor at UT Health San Antonio.
How Can I Practice Good Water Safety?
Some good water safety tips to remember include:
• Avoid alcohol
• Have a swim buddy
• Swim at a depth that’s safe for you
• Make sure your location is known/others know where you are swimming
• Wear a properly fitted life vest
Dr. Muir stresses that water tragedies can be prevented by using the proper gear and that while inflatable floaties and water wings are fun, they are not personal flotation devices that will keep your child’s head above water.
Additionally, it’s also important to make sure that the life jacket fits your child properly.
“The best way to tell if a lifejacket fits, particularly in a child, is to have them make the touchdown sign,” Muir said, “If they can do that with both hands straight in the air, and the lifejacket comes up to their ears or chin, the life jacket is too large for that child.”
Finally, the best way to keep your family safe in the water this summer is to have a good water safety plan, including learning CPR.
You can find CPR classes online and throughout San Antonio at different American Red Cross locations.