Drownings don’t take holiday breaks
Holiday music graces your ears, the stress of cooking for a big group rises, bows and wrapping paper are flung everywhere. It can be easy to become distracted at this time of year. That makes it even more important to ensure you’ve taken advanced safety measures, especially if your home is on or near a lake, river or even a swimming pool.
Just because the holidays are here doesn’t mean the water has become any less enticing to little ones or any less dangerous.
There is an average of 10 fatal drownings a day in the U.S., according to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. For every fatal drowning, there are another 5 to 10 people treated in hospitals due to non-fatal drowning injuries, according to the Prevention Alliance.
Talk to the children, teens, and young adults about staying clear of any body of water when alone. And any time anyone gets on the water, to put on a life jacket.
About 23% of child drownings happen during a family gathering near a pool, according to the Prevention Alliance. Fatal drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 5 to 14, behind motor vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Don’t let this holiday season go from a dream to a nightmare by lapsing on water safety.
Families and friends are visiting one another across the Brazos River basin, including at homes along the river, on a lake, or with a swimming pool. People and children, who might not be as familiar with water precautions, are finding themselves around an enticing plunge or bundled up to cruise across the water. They could even just be playing in the general vicinity of a body of water.
In 2022, there were 76 child drownings, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Of those, 42 were in a pool, 12 were in a bathtub, 8 were in a lake, four were in a pond, three were in a river, two were at the beach, one was in a hot tub, a creek, a bucket, a stock pond and a bayou.
So, this holiday season remind those you love to be alert.
According to the CDC, certain factors make drowning more likely:
- Not being able to swim
- Missing or ineffective fences around water
- Lack of close supervision
- Not wearing life jackets
- Drinking alcohol
- Using drugs and prescription medications
You can prevent drowning.
- Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning.
- Pools should be fully enclosed by a fence.
- Designate a responsible adult to closely supervise when children are in or near water (including bathtubs.)
- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket – they reduce the risk of drowning while boating for people of all ages and swimming abilities.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or other water activities. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, and coordination.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
These reminders to family members and friends are even more important during the off-season as people might not be as alert as they are during summer when swimming and sunscreen are daily activities. Those unfamiliar with the water may not yet understand the dangers. Intentions may not be to swim, but playing around water, where there’s a chance to even slip into shallow water is cause for alarm.
For information on where to find swimming lessons for you or your child, check with your local Red Cross office or your local YMCA.
Stay safe, whether visiting the local pool, the Brazos River, or any of the three Brazos River Authority reservoirs. Water safety is important today and every day.