FROM THE RED CROSS – A 2009 survey conducted by the American Red Cross shows the importance of water safety skills, with half of those surveyed saying they have had a near-drowning experience in their lifetime.
The survey found that 48 percent reported a near-drowning experience, and nearly 1 in 3 said they had a near-drowning scare between the ages of 5 and 15. The national survey of 1,002 adults was conducted in late March 2009 to assess the water activity plans of families and their water safety knowledge and training.
The Red Cross survey found more than 90 percent of people planned to participate in water-related activities that summer. Nearly half of parents—with children between the ages of 3 and 17—planned to engage in water-related activities where no lifeguard would be on duty.
“As we’ve seen, so many families plan unsupervised water-related activities during summer, and the Red Cross is urging families in North Central Kansas to learn to swim and learn water safety and lifesaving skills that can help save a life,” says Sharita Davis, Health & Safety Director for the Kansas Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on water-related injuries1, the drowning rate in the United States averages ten people per day with a quarter of fatal drownings involving children 14 and younger. This is why Red Cross recommends swimming in areas supervised by a lifeguard. If no lifeguard is on duty, designate an adult as a “water watcher,” someone who maintains constant supervision of children around any water no matter how well they can swim or how shallow the water.
“While we all looking forward to a summer of fun with our family and friends, it’s important to remember that most water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe and following a few simple guidelines,” says Davis, Kansas Capital Area Chapter. “Everyone should know how to swim well. We can help families stay safe by teaching skills through our swimming and water safety program that teaches children and adults to learn how to swim skillfully and safely.”
The 2009 Red Cross survey also found that nearly one in three parents (30 percent) believe that "floaties" are better than supervision. The Red Cross stresses that floaties cannot be used as a substitute for appropriate supervision.
Water safety is also important for pool owners as almost 10 percent of people surveyed had experiences where they nearly drowned in a private pool. Pool owners should know what equipment to have on hand and what to do in case of an emergency to make the home pool or hot tub environment as safe as possible.
Red Cross is urging your family to stay safe this summer with these few simple tips and by contacting the Kansas Capital Area Chapter to obtain additional information on water safety:
• Learn to swim well. Contact the Kansas Capital Area Chapter for information on learning how to swim—nearly 2 million people learn to swim each year with Red Cross programs.
• Never leave children unattended near water—not even for a moment! Adults should practice “reach supervision,” which means to always be within arm’s length when a young child is near water. For older children–even adults–who are not strong swimmers, practice “active” or constant supervision and make sure they wear U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) whenever in or around the water.
• Know how to respond to an emergency. You should know how to tell if a swimmer is in distress or is drowning and how and when to call for emergency help. You should also learn how to help someone in trouble in water while keeping safe yourself. Do not create a situation where you become a victim as well! Enroll in Red Cross water safety, first aid and CPR courses to learn what to do.
• Keep lifesaving gear handy. Always have on hand a ring buoy, life jacket, rope, pole or other object that can be used to help a person in trouble. Remember to have a first aid kit, cordless phone and emergency contact information by the pool.
• Know when it’s too dangerous. If you, or someone you are swimming with, appear to be too cold, too far from safety, been exposed to too much sun, or had too much strenuous activity, it is time to head for shore or signal for help.
• Eliminate temptation. Backyard pools should have self-closing, self-latching gates that remain locked when the pool is not being used. Kiddie pools should be emptied and toys removed immediately after use. Empty water pales and buckets so small children cannot fall in and drown.
• Know what you’re getting into. Check local tides, currents and other conditions which could be dangerous before entering open bodies of water.
For more information on Red Cross Learn to Swim, water safety, first aid, CPR and our new Wilderness First Aid classes near you contact the Kansas Capital Area Chapter.