By August of 2019, 64 children died in drowning accidents throughout the state of Texas. By October, that number swelled to 87 drownings. Living in one of the hottest states in the nation, Texans have developed a love for swimming and using pools to escape the summertime heat. So, learning how to prevent accidents help reduce the amount of drowning accidents that the state has at a nation-leading rate. To combat drownings, the Texas Drowning Prevention Alliance offers nine useful tips to make a pool safer for everyone near it. These tips aren’t just useful for pools; they should be utilized around any body of water such as a bath, lake, spa, or pond.
9 Ways You Can Prevent Drowning Accidents
Tip 1: Supervise Whether People Are in Water or Near It
Always have an adult designated to watch a body of water, even if people are not using it. If needed, have adults take shifts watching a pool during a party to ensure that someone is always focused on anyone who might need help. If children under the age of four are near water, use touch supervision. This type of supervision means staying within arms reach of young children.
Tip 2: Avoid Swimming Alone
Sometimes confidence can be deadly. Only swim if there are others nearby to help. Even the most confident and skilled swimmers are susceptible to accidents that can quickly turn deadly without help. If swimming in a public pool or lake, ensure that a lifeguard is on duty before getting in the water.
Tip 3: Know Medical Conditions of Swimmers
If a swimmer has a known medical condition, such as frequent seizures, always watch them and provide adequate safety gear. Those who might suddenly lose their ability to swim should always have a lifejacket on in large bodies of water. Additionally, those with medical conditions might want to consider taking a shower in favor of a bath.
Tip 4: Swim Lessons Save Lives
Providing children with swimming lessons can help decrease their risk of drowning by 88 percent. However, never use a swimmer’s training as an excuse to decrease supervision on them. Always watch swimmers, regardless of their swimming level. Additionally, always have barriers that are child-proof even if your children can swim.
Tip 5: Use Safety Gear Approved by Coast Guard
Never rely on air-filled or foam devices as safety gear for children. These are toys and are not supposed to save lives. Instead, rely on safety life jackets and other equipment that have been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Tip 6: Alcohol & Water Don’t Mix
Drinking alcohol is never a good idea if the water is nearby or involved. The effects of alcohol can decrease coordination and the judgment of the most talented swimmers.
Tip 7: Don’t Hold Your Breath
While seeing how long swimmers can hold their breath might feel like a classic summertime game, it can be dangerous. When someone holds their breath for too long, they can pass out and drown.
Tip 8: Learn CPR & Basic First Aid
Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can save someone’s life after a drowning accident. Someone can succumb to the deadly effects of drowning in the time it takes for emergency responders to arrive. So, knowing CPR can keep someone alive until professional help gets to the scene. Many cities and towns offer local courses that teach residents CPR and first aid techniques.
Tip 9: Check the Weather
Never swim in windy conditions or thunderstorms. Lightning strikes make swimming incredibly risky, and high winds can create difficult conditions to swim in.
Protecting Children from Drowning
There are some steps you can take to specifically address drowning prevention and children. The first and most crucial step to protecting children is ensuring that a pool has at least one person on duty who watches all child activity in the pool. Contrary to what the movies depict, people who are drowning are often silent and easy to miss—especially during a busy backyard party. Instead of screaming, drowning victims put all their energy into catching a breath, so you can't trust that you'd "hear" your kids drowning. Having a designated pool watcher helps ensure that even a silent drowning is noticed. To make watching a pool easier, arrange supervision shifts between different people. Even if a watcher needs to leave the pool area for less than a minute, they need to find someone to take over their responsibilities.
Additionally, all children who are unable to swim should wear flotation devices at all times they have access to water. Many holiday drowning accidents occur after meals, when adults remove flotation devices for the children's comfort while eating. If possible, encourage children to keep wearing flotation devices while eating. However, if they insist on removing them, ensure that access to the pool is completely restricted until every child is wearing their flotation device once again.
Texas has the most child drowning accidents of any other state, and Arnold & Itkin has been covering this topic as the summer months heat up. In the last month, we’ve discussed how adult cellphone use is linked to child drowning. However, many parents don’t consider one thing about children when it comes to pool safety: studies have shown that children are naturally inclined to place themselves in dangerous situations.
Why Children Place Themselves in Danger
According to psychological research, children play with risk to learn about survival. Risky play is seen in all mammals. Adolescent goats jump down dangerous slopes and leap high into the air. Monkeys swing between branches that are too high and far apart for their comfort or safety. Chimpanzees allow themselves to fall from branches and catch a lower one just before they would hit the ground.
Why do these creatures do this? For survival. Mammals risk injury so they can learn to regulate fear and anger. Scientists refer to this practice as the emotion regulation theory of play. Through risky play, a young mammal can learn how to deal with fear when it’s a situation they cannot control. By risking their own life purposely, they learn how to protect themselves under pressure.
Emotion Regulation Theory of Play & Drowning Accidents
Mammals like to take risks, and humans are no exception. Scientists have segmented the risks that children take into six main categories: great heights, rapid speeds, dangerous tools, dangerous elements, rough and tumble, and getting lost. When it comes to pool safety, the most important type of risk associated with humans is referred to as dangerous elements, such as deep water. So, when a child inexplicably walks toward a body of water, they could be entertaining an urge that is at the deepest core of who they are.
Because children are naturally prone to approaching bodies of water that could harm them, adults must take every step to ensure that bodies of water such as pools, lakes, rivers, and ponds are inaccessible to children without supervision. To protect children from themselves, they should never be left alone near water; pool fences create barriers that prevent accidents when no adult is nearby or watching.
Even Adults Need to Be Protected from Drowning
Believing that adults are immune to drowning accidents is a dangerous assumption. Three out of four of those who drowned over the Fourth of July weekend were 17 or older. According to the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol use is a factor in up to 70 percent of adult drownings. Alcohol makes a person unable to properly balance, decreases coordination needed to swim, and impairs a person’s judgment to make safe decisions. If it is sunny out, the effects of alcohol can be more severe.
Factors that Influence All Drownings
Whether a person is a child or an adult, there are several factors that affect all swimmers. These factors might vary slightly from person to person but are essential to remember around the pool.
These factors include the following:
- Swimming Ability: Whether a person is a strong swimmer or just learning to keep their head above water, many drowning accidents are caused by too much confidence.
- Lack of Barriers: As noted above, pools should have limited access, which can keep individuals of all ages out of their area when needed.
- Lack of Supervision: Drowning happens quickly, so it’s best if a person ensures that they never swim alone.
- Location: Drowning happens for different age groups in different settings. For example, the most common drowning accident location for children aged one to four is private pools.
- Seizure Disorders: Drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury or death for those prone to having seizures.
Pool Owners Are Legally Committed to Safety
If you or a loved one suffered from an accident at a pool, premises owners had a responsibility to prevent the incident. Since pools have inherent dangers, property owners are required to make sure they are mitigating dangers at all opportunities.
Arnold & Itkin is ready to fight for those suffering after a swimming accident. Our drowning accident lawyers have won billions of dollars for clients. We’re ready to make negligent parties provide answers for their behavior, so they never let what happened to you happen to someone else.
Call Arnold & Itkin today for a free consultation of your case at (888) 493-1629. Speaking with a member of our team is free, and we only collect a fee if we win results for you.