With the summer swimming months upon us, it’s important to remember that accidental drowning remains the top killer of kids younger than 5, and the second leading cause of death for kids ages 5 to 14. And while legislation has helped all but eliminate one cause of accidental drowning, experts are concerned parents’ preoccupation with smartphones and other distractions still results in unnecessary accidents.
The most recent national data from 2016 “indicates a spike in drowning incidents among all children younger than 15,” says Nikki Fleming, director of the Pool Safely campaign. While no official explanation is given for the increase – particularly since suction entrapment drownings have been eliminated – there is anecdotal evidence to suggest parents are more easily distracted by digital devices.
It’s worth noting, for example, that three-quarters of drownings occur in home swimming pools and spas (e.g. hot tubs, jacuzzis), and bathtubs, often within sight of a parent or guardian. In fact, most kids who drown at home weren’t expected to be in or near the water.
Other facts parents should understand:
- Twice as many boys as girls drown under the age of 15
- Thousands of kids are treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal drowning incidents
- Summer months are when most drownings occur, with June claiming the most lives
- Drowning is a silent killer – few kids splash or make a commotion
- Most drownings occur within sight or earshot of a parent
Safety experts advise parents to use the early weeks of summer to ensure their kids know how to swim. Proper barriers should always be in place for spas, jacuzzis, and swimming pools when not in use.
And perhaps most important in this era of digital distraction, when your kids are in or even near water, put away phones, tablets, and other devices. Remember, kids can drown in mere seconds.