CDC: Drowning the Leading Cause of Injury Death for Toddlers
The National Drowning Prevention Alliance pleads for aggressive public education efforts to teach parents and swimming pool owners best practices for water safety.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA, May 18, 2012—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a report that states: “Drowning is the leading cause of injury death among children ages 1-4 years… These children most commonly drowned in swimming pools.” The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) leaders are grateful that the CDC released this report during May, which is National Drowning Prevention Month.
“We hope this new report sparks a national conversation that will raise public awareness and promote safer behaviors among parents and swimming pool and spa owners,” said Kim Burgess, executive director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Through its vast network of water safety experts, the NDPA is urging the news media, public health officials, pediatricians, children’s health and safety advocates, early childhood educators, swim schools, pool and spa service professionals and others to educate the public.
The nonprofit organization has partnered with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for a second year to promote the federal agency’s Pool Safely public education campaign. The NDPA will join in a press conference at 10:30 a.m., May 24th at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex, home of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, to mark the “First Splash” of the 2012 campaign and release CPSC’s annual submersion and drain entrapment reports.
“Sadly, too many people still don’t know how dangerous an unsecured backyard pool can be,” says NDPA president Tiffaney Isaacson, of Phoenix, Arizona, water safety coordinator of the Water Watchers program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “Drowning is so swift and silent that even a momentary distraction can lead to tragedy. That’s why parents and pool owners need to use multiple layers of protection.”
“Drowning is preventable if you identify the risk and take steps to minimize it,” adds NDPA treasurer Cindy Johnson, of Santa Ana, California, who with her husband, NDPA Past President Johnny Johnson, heads up the Swim for Life Foundation. “We developed the Safer 3 message so aquatics and child safety advocates could have a clear, complete and compelling way to educate the public about the simple steps that save lives.”
Follow the Safer 3:
- For Safer Water, prevent unsupervised access to pools and spas by installing and maintaining four-sided isolation fencing with self-closing, self-latching gates, door, water, and child immersion alarms or automatic safety covers. Have several barriers to provide back-up in case one layer fails.
- For Safer Kids, always designate a ‘Water Watcher’ who will remain vigilant and undistracted while supervising children in or near water. Also teach children water safety and swimming skills at a young age.
- For Safer Response know how to perform CPR and keep a phone and rescue equipment by the pool.
The CDC report also states that, among children 5-14 years old, the drowning death rate is 116 percent higher for African Americans. The report adds: “Blacks might be at greater risk because they often lack swimming survival skills."
“Our research shows that 70 percent of African American and 62 percent of Hispanic children can’t swim. A big part of this problem is that many schools and communities, especially in urban and rural areas, don’t have aquatic facilities where children can learn to swim,” says NDPA Vice President Sue Nelson, aquatic program specialist for USA Swimming. “Swimming is an essential life skill that every child needs to learn by no later than third grade.”
USA Swimming Foundation created the Make a Splash initiative to address this problem specifically by encouraging African Americans and Latinos to take swimming lessons and by teaching communities how to run financially self-sustaining aquatic facilities.
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The National Drowning Prevention Alliance is a volunteer-driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2004. NDPA members are dedicated to preventing drowning for all age groups in all bodies of water through public education, advocacy and strategic partnerships. The public is invited to join by visiting NDPA.org.
The Pool Safely campaign (www.PoolSafely.gov) is a national public education effort to reduce child drownings, submersion injuries and entrapments in swimming pools and spas. The campaign focuses on drowning incidents involving children in pools and spas. This year, Pool Safely will add focus to the importance of outreach and education to African American and Hispanic communities.