Drowning a serious threat for children, adults during summer water fun
You may be seeking to cool off this summer at a pool or one of our local rivers.
Water safety must be kept at the forefront of your mind during these fun times.
There are over 3,500 accidental drowning deaths per year in the United States. That's about 10 deaths per day.
READ MORE | Ooltewah man who drowned in Destin on Saturday identified
The statistics are especially hard to hear concerning children. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for kids ages one to four years old, and the second leading cause of death for children ages one to 14.
Pool safety experts say parents and adults must take responsibility to make sure children are safe in and around water as deaths due to drowning can be prevented.
For activities around the water, there should be a designated "Water Watcher" who is focused on children's safety with no distractions.
"Good supervision, first of all, but second, there are training programs for even children that are as early as 6 months into swimming programs, swimming lessons," Larry Zehnder, Chairman of the Board of Southeast TN American Red Cross, explained.
Parents should make sure kids know how to swim. You are never too old or young to learn.
Many local organizations offer swim lessons, such as the YMCA, UTC, the city’s aquatics program, and Southern Adventist University.
"Teaching a child at an early age to where it becomes a routine, a matter of fact for them where they're not afraid of the water. They are comfortable in the water, and they know how their body will react when they're in the water," Ken Wilkerson, Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Director said of the benefits of swim lessons.
Children learn what they are capable and not capable of doing in the water.
"If your child cannot swim or is in water where they can have difficulty, be sure they have a flotation device that is adaptable and is put on that child. One that the child cannot remove, and one the child can't come out of,” advised Wilkerson.
A life jacket is a good example, not a pool noodle.
Drownings appear in two different ways.
First, a distressed swimmer, who is able to call out for help, may likely need to be rescued.
Second, an active drowning victim is not able to yell for help. They go into an instinctive reflex response, which has the body in a vertical position, arms out to the side, and head tilted back. They must be rescued.
"Take immediate action, get the child out of the water, and make sure that they are breathing on their own as quickly as possible. You can take steps with CPR," stated Zehnder.
The lack of oxygen is very harmful to the brain.
"Cause brain damage, swelling to the brain. It interferes and interrupts necessary bodily functions and organ function, and you can have any type of long-term effect," Wilkerson said.
You should call 911 immediately for any drownings or near drownings.
Some drowning accidents are caused by a person hitting their head, and their head and neck must be stabilized in the rescue process.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more pool safety tips for parents and kids.
The YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga and Southern Adventist University were also consulted for this drowning prevention information.