Sunday, May 17, 2009

Prevent Drowning, May is National Water Safety Month

From friends and relatives relatives I correspond with, I know that warm weather has arrived in some places around the U.S. Here in Central Illinois we have been a little less fortunate this spring. When browsing through the list of the many national health observances meant to be recognized in May, I didn't overlook the fact that this is National Water Safety Awareness Month. I thought I'd skip in favor of some of the lesser-known observance topics this month . . . but . . .

Why Think About Water Safety and Drowning Prevention

I changed my mind today after browsing the online newspaper of our erstwhile hometown of El Paso, Texas (where it's definitely more than warm, by the way, they'll reach the low 90's tomorrow while we can only hope for 72.) This is the time of year when El Paso kids often get to take a day off school to have a big outing for the day. Some lucky students spend a day at the nearby giant waterpark, Wet N'Wild Waterworld. Almost 700 student from various schools were enjoying one of those days of swimming last week, when a 14-year-old boy tragically drowned. Sadly, another drowning made the national news last week. In Jacksonville, Florida 2-year-old twins drowned in a backyard pond near their home.

It's painful to recall drownings of children and young people who have somehow been peripheral to my circle of friends/acquaintances/and relatives. It hasn't happened often, but the memories of those tragedies are particularly difficult to bear. Often survivor's guilt haunts those left behind for years to come. I will bear witness to the fact that it doesn't matter who you are--how well educated the parent, how strong the swimmer, how many safety precautions were set in place beforehand. These tragedies can and do happen in mere moments.

The upcoming weekend we celebrate Memorial Day. In many places this even marks the opening of the local pools as children are released from school for the summer.

What You Should Know . . .

In 2001 the National Institute of Health, National Child Health and Human Development published a study advising that infants less than age one are more likely to drown in a bathtub at home. Toddlers and adolescent males were more likely to die from drowning. Toddlers typically drowned in a swimming pool. From the age of 5 upwards, children were more likely to drown in a fresh water environment such as a pond, lake, or river.

Read more about how to Prevent Drowning:

I'm leaving it to expert advice from the following reliable sources:
Don't feel like reading?

The CDC has a podcast to download and listen to, Protect the ones you love from drowning. You can also print at that site transcript if you prefer.


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