Child Drowning Accidents Linked to Adult Smartphone Use

Each year, the Centers for Disease Control warns that drowning is one of the most common killers of children under the age of 14. The federal agency also stresses that drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and four in the United States. Now, the world’s largest lifeguard organization is putting out this warning: distractions caused by cell phones are causing deadly drowning accidents.

The German Lifeguard Association (DLRG) oversees 40,000 volunteer lifeguards across Germany. A recent report from The Guardian reported that DLRG revealed that more than 300 people drowned in Germany last year. It is connecting this spike in drownings to cell phone usage, saying that some parents are not looking up from their screens often enough to watch swimming children. The German federation of swimming pool supervisors also joined the DLRG with warning parents about having too much phone time near a pool.

“Too few parents and grandparents are heeding the advice: when your children and grandchildren are in the water, put your smartphone away,” DLRG spokesman Achim Wiese said.

“In the past, parents and grandparents spent more time with their children in the swimming pool. But increasing numbers of parents are fixated by their smartphones and are not looking left or right, let alone paying attention to their children,” said Peter Harzheim of the federation. “It’s sad that parents behave so neglectfully these days.”

Why Cell Phone Use is Dangerous Near Pools

An adult might think it is safe to hop on their phone to quickly catch up on Facebook while they supervise swimming children. According to research, the average person spends nearly five minutes on Facebook each time they log on. Movies often portray drowning as loud and dramatic, complete with screams and flailing arms. Yet, it is typically a silent process, and a person who thinks they are paying attention to a pool by listening for emergencies could be missing that a child needs help. Some experts assert that it takes only 20 seconds for a child to drown. So, a life can be lost in the time it takes to read the first few posts on a social media platform’s feed.

“I don’t think parents understand how quickly and quietly drowning occurs," Sharon Evans from Cook Children's hospital, said in a statement. "There is no thrashing, no yelling for help. The drowning child is just trying to push down on the water to get their head above the surface to gasp a breath of air.”

If someone you loved suffered because of a drowning accident, help is available. Call (888) 493-1629 to speak with a member of our team.

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