As temperatures warm up and beach season begins, children everywhere will be clamoring to splash and frolic in the water – but how many kids have the skills needed to stay safe in the ocean or at the local pool? Open water is the most prevalent setting for drownings in the U.S. — one of the leading causes of accidental death for those under the age of 19.
Besides the ocean, lakes, rivers, creeks and even man-made canals and garden ponds pose serious risks for young children. Every year in America, some 1,000 children die in drowning accidents.
Facts about open water drownings
National statistics about fatal open water drownings in the U.S. emphasize the importance of water safety awareness to prevent these heart wrenching accidents.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide:
- More children and teenagers drown in open water accidents than in swimming pools
- Nearly 50 percent of all open water drownings occurred in children ages 15-19
- In terms of ethnicity, American Indian and Alaskan native children are at highest drowning risk
- Every week, 150 American families experience a frightening drowning scare
- Swimming pool drownings account for 38 percent of childhood drowning fatalities
- Boys are 4 times more likely than girls to die in an open water drowning accident
- 76 percent of deadly open water drownings occur when children are swimming in natural water; the rest are attributed to accidental falls, and boating accidents
- Lakes, ponds and rivers are the most common setting for fatal open water drownings in kids age 0-19
Hidden dangers of open water
Families who are planning to enjoy some open water recreation with the kids should be aware of these hidden dangers that increase drowning risks:
- Strong currents / undertow
- Sudden drop-offs
- Uneven surfaces
- Murky water and limited visibility
- Cooler water temperatures that can lead to panic and drowning
- Sudden changes in the weather
- Distances that are difficult to judge
Open water is much different than a swimming pool. The environment and swimming conditions are unpredictable which is why constant supervision is critical. Have a designated “water watcher” to keep an eye on kids and ensure that inexperienced and non-swimmers are always wearing personal flotation devices when around open water. Safety officials also recommend that at least one person in the family have basic CPR skills in the event of a drowning incident.
Legal help after a drowning accident
Whether it happens in a river, a community pool or at the beach, drowning accidents (and near drownings) can lead to permanent brain damage and cognitive impairment. In situations where negligence is involved, the injured and their family may be entitled to legal compensation.
In the wake of any type of drowning accident, contact the law firm of Edelman, Krasin & Jaye to learn more about your options for legal recourse. Our talented NY personal injury lawyers offer more than 60 years of combined experience and have convenient office locations in Long Island and the Bronx. The case evaluation is free and there are no fees unless we win money damages on your behalf.
Additional Water Safety Resources:
- SafeKids.org, Hidden Hazards https://www.safekids.org/sites/default/files/water_safety_study_2018.pdf
- Parents.com, The Sad Truth About Drowning https://www.parents.com/kids/safety/outdoor/the-sad-truth-about-drowning/
- WHO, Drowning Facts http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drowning