|Official Press Release
Contact: Carol Schriber
Date: June 6, 2008
Drowning is preventable
RALEIGH — The warm days of summer are here, and more and more people are cooling off in pools, ponds lakes and the ocean, or enjoying other water sports like boating. But along with the fun comes a tragic rise in the number of drowning deaths of children, including several in North Carolina over the last week.
A 5-year-old boy drowned in a Hoke County pond last Friday, and a 2-year-old boy died in an above-ground pool in Chatham County on Saturday. And on Tuesday, an 11-month-old baby drowned in his home bathtub in Robeson County, underscoring how quickly a tragedy can occur when children are in or around water.
More than one in four fatal drowning victims are children 14 and younger, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Boys are much more likely than girls to drown, and racial and ethnic minority children are at significantly higher risk of drowning than white children are.
In 2006, 23 North Carolina children ages 0-17 drowned, and many more suffered water-related injuries (2007 data is not yet available). Near-drowning can cause brain damage that may result in lasting disabilities ranging from memory problems to leaving a child in a permanent vegetative state.
“We can help prevent future deaths by making sure we take the right lessons from these tragedies,” said Leah Devlin, State Health Director.
“The more we study these deaths, the more we realize that drowning is very preventable,” Devlin said. “Over and again, we have found that children who died by drowning were not being supervised. Whether the children who died were toddlers who fell into swimming pools, teenagers having fun in a lake, or babies in bathtubs, adults were not around or were not paying close attention to make sure the children were safe.” Also, in nearly all N.C. drowning deaths, the children were not wearing life jackets, or approved personal flotation devices.
“Drowning is quick and quiet. If you have watch over a child around water, the most important thing to remember is supervision, supervision, and supervision,” Devlin said.
She offered the following CDC tips for preventing drowning and other water-related injuries:
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