Friday, June 14th, 2013
Formal swimming lessons, conducted by a certified instructor, may be the key to reducing the number of child drownings in the U.S. Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 19, and although it is established that lessons give children the skills they need to survive in the water, access to those resources is often restricted in lower income and minority communities. More from The New York Times:
Huge numbers of children are unable to swim, which largely explains why drowning is the second leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 19. Three years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its policy, reinforcing its advice that children ages 4 and older should learn to swim but also noting that children ages 1 to 4 are less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming lessons.
Furthermore, very young children who are comfortable in water are likely to be easier to teach to swim when they are ready to learn formal strokes.
According to the USA Swimming Foundation, about 70 percent of African-American children, 60 percent of Latino children and 40 percent of white children are nonswimmers. Lack of access and financial constraints account only partly for these numbers. Fear, cultural factors and even cosmetic issues play a role as well.
“Before the Civil War, more blacks than whites could swim,” Lynn Sherr, the author of “Swim: Why We Love the Water,” said in an interview. “There are many stories of shipwrecks in which black slaves rescued their owners.”
But as Ms. Sherr learned from Bruce Wigo of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, segregation destroyed the aquatic culture of the black community. “Once whites discovered swimming, blacks were increasingly excluded from public pools and lifeguarded beaches,” Mr. Wigo told her.
As a result, many minority parents never learned how to swim. Adults who can’t swim often fear the water and, directly or indirectly, convey that fear to their children.
Image: Child swimming, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 17th, 2012
Nearly 140 children under age 15 were reported to have drowned in swimming pools and spa tubs during the 2012 summer season between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a new report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) has found. A release announcing the report says, in part:
An additional 168 children of that age required emergency response for near-fatal incidents in pools or spas during that period.
“These figures are a strong indication that child drownings are a serious public health problem,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said. “We are losing too many children to drowning, tragically cutting short these young lives and leaving families devastated. While summer is ending, our vigilance in ensuring that all children pool safely must not end. With so many indoor community pools, hotel pools and spas, indoor waterparks, as well as outdoor pools that remain open in warm-weather states, we must continue our efforts to remind everyone to pool safely whenever they are near the water.”
The media figures for this summer show that 54 of these drownings occurred soon after the children left an adult who was in their immediate vicinity, and 31 children drowned despite the presence of others at the pool.
Image: Swimming pool, via Shutterstock
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Monday, June 20th, 2011
Nearly 250 children drowned or nearly drowned in portable pools from 2001 to 2009, about two dozen each year, the first national study of portable pool safety has found. The study, which gathered its data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, was published today in the online edition of the journal Pediatrics. It reports that wading pools, inflatable pools, and other soft-sided portable pools carry a similar danger level to in-ground pools, and some children drowned in as little as two inches of water.
Almost all the drownings or near-drownings–94 percent–involved children under 5 years of age. Fifty-six percent involved boys, and 73 percent occurred in the child’s own backyard. Researchers concluded that many parents might not feel the same sense of safety urgency with portable pools as they do with the deeper waters of in-ground pools.
“The anecdotal evidence was suggesting that because portable pools are readily available in many convenience stores and malls, and they’re relatively cheap, parents would pick them up, take them home, quickly assemble them, and all this would be done without a lot of forethought about the safety aspects,” the study’s senior author, Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told The Associated Press.
Smith recommends a consumer education campaign to raise awareness that drowning is the second-leading cause of injury deaths among young children, and portable pools can be dangerous if safety precautions are not taken. Precautions should take the form of “layers of protection,” the study said, including constant, vigilant adult supervision, proper isolation or fencing around the pool when not in use, and CPR education for caregivers and parents.
(image via: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/)
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