Importance of Water Safety and Drowning Prevention | UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

drowning prevention and swimming safety

Drowning is the number one cause of injury-related death among children between the ages of 1 and 5 and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-14. Drowning incidents can happen in a matter of seconds and often there is little or no splashing or sound involved, which can make it difficult to detect. Children can drown in front of other children, adults and even lifeguards. 

Each year, an average of 1,027 children die from unintentional drowning and about 5,700 children sustain nonfatal near drowning-related injuries each year. In 2012, there were 43 unintentional drowning deaths of people of all ages in Iowa, the highest amount since 2005.

Knowing CPR is very helpful when a drowning incident occurs. CPR can be given until medical professionals arrive to take over and can help save a life. To help avoid a drowning incident from occurring in the first place, it is important to always provide supervision for children around all bodies of water (even the bathtub) and to know how to swim. The CDC reports that formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88% among children 1-4, the highest risk age group.

Top Tips for Water Safety

  • Never leave your child unattended around water. 
  • Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
  • Watch your children, do not rely on a lifeguard. If they are in or around water keep them at arm's length of an adult.
  • Think of installing a fence if you have a home pool. 
  • Close toilet lids and use toilet seat locks.
  • Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
  • Empty all bathtubs, containers, kiddie pools or other devices used for swimming or bath time immediately after use. Store them upside down so they do not collect water.
  • Teach children how to swim and enroll in swimming lessons.
  • Know what to do in an emergency and always call 911.

On June 21, 2018 The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ will be held at the Altoona Center Aquatic Park in Altoona, IA, registration begins at 8:15 a.m. with a start time of 11 a.m. The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ was created as a platform to help aquatic facilities and the many different regional, national and international water safety and drowning prevention organizations, work together to communicate the fundamental importance of teaching children to swim. The event will pull tens of thousands of kids and adults from aquatic facilities around the world.

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