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Prevention of Drowning and Water-Related Injuries

The TNUMC Health & Wellness Committee will be sharing monthly articles and information related to the National Health Observances 2019 and seasonal activities. These articles are intended to raise awareness of health and safety related concerns and share some resources. Information shared will be from evidence-based resources. This information is not intended to replace advice from your physician.

If you have questions, please contact. Rev. Marie C. King, Chairperson, at marie.king@tnumc.com.


By: Carlenda M. Smith, MD, FAAP
Dr. Carlenda M. Smith is a Pediatrician, a member of the Health and Welfare Committee, and member of John Wesley UMC

Summer is a fine time of year and we also want to keep our children safe. Did you know that nearly 1,000 children die every year from drowning? Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths among children ages 1 to 4. The second age group that is at the highest risk of drowning are teens. About 370 children ages 10-19 drown every year. The risk for drowning is especially high with African American teens and other children of color. “…nearly 64 percent of African-American children, 45 percent of Hispanic children and 40 percent of Caucasian children have no/low swimming ability, putting them at risk for drowning.” usaswimmingfoundation.org

Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5-19. The USA Swimming Foundation shared on its website a study on swimming ability with youth. This study was conducted by the University of Memphis and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently updated recommendations to prevent drowning in children. Parents are advised to be mindful during bath time and empty all objects that have standing water in it such as pools and buckets. All children should learn how to swim. Also, children and teens should wear life jackets when near open bodies of water. Teens are encouraged to learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and practice water safety.

Pediatricians are encouraged to talk about water safety during routine well-child visits. Homeowners with pools should keep their pools safe and have a 4- sided safety fence that completely surrounds the pool and isolates it from the house. On the website healthychildren.org the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends the following (www.aap.org):
– Parents and caregivers should never leave children alone or in the care of another child while in or near bathtubs, pools, spas, or other open water
– Adults should empty water from buckets and other containers immediately after use.
– Do not leave young children alone in the bathroom. Toilet locks can prevent drowning of toddlers.
– When infants or toddlers are in or around the water, a supervising adult with swimming skills should be within an arm’s length, providing constant “touch supervision.”
– Even with older children and better swimmers, the supervising adult should focus on the child and not be engaged with other distracting activities.

Healthychildren.org is a great resource for parents and provides great information about water safety.