GLADWIN COUNTY – In light of a recent tragedy in Gladwin a crash course in drowning prevention is in order. According to the American Red Cross ten people die each day from unintentional drowning, and on average two of them are under the age of fourteen. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages one to four than any other cause except birth defects. Among those aged 1-14, drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
While drowning can happen anywhere there is water, for young children most drowning’s occur at home. For children younger than 5, 87% of drowning fatalities happen in home pools or hot tubs. Most of those take place in pools owned by family, friends or relatives. After pools/hot tubs, bathtubs are the second leading location where young people drown. Natural water such as ponds and lakes is the leading site for those aged 5 to 17.
Sobering, isn’t it? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some ideas to prevent a tragedy. They present four common sense tips that everyone with young children or water access should be aware of. 1. Learn life-saving skills. Everyone should know basic swimming techniques and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. 2. Fence it off. Install a four-sided isolation fence with self-closing and self-latching gates around backyard pools. The fence should completely separate the house and play area from the pool. 3. Make life jackets a must. Kids should wear life jackets when in or around natural bodies of water. 4. Be on the lookout. Kids should be closely supervised when in or near water. Drowning can happen quickly so adults supervising kids should avoid distracting activities such as reading or playing cards.