CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Centers for Disease Control says many Americans do not have basic swimming skills and that lack of skills is contributing to alarming drowning statistics, especially in children.
From 2005 to 2014, there were an average of 3,536 drownings each year, an average of 10 per day, according to the CDC website. Of those victims, approximately one in five are children under the age of 15.
Experts say nearly 80 percent of people who die from drowning are male and children between the ages of 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates.
The drowning rate among African-Americans is significantly higher than that of whites across all ages, the site states.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says there are several warning signs to watch for that could indicate a child or adult is in danger of drowning:
- Head low in the water, mouth at water level
- Head tilted back with mouth open
- Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
- Eyes closed
- Hair over forehead or eyes
- Not using legs — vertical
- Hyperventilating or gasping
- Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
- Trying to roll over on the back
- Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder
The CDC recommends 10 tips to staying safe in the water:
- Supervise When in or Around Water. Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch supervision”, be close enough to reach the child at all times. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.
- Use the Buddy System. Always swim with a buddy. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.
- Seizure Disorder Safety. If you or a family member has a seizure disorder, provide one-on-one supervision around water, including swimming pools. Consider taking showers rather than using a bath tub for bathing. Wear life jackets when boating.
- Learn to Swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water, and barriers, such as pool fencing to prevent unsupervised access, are still important.
- Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
- Air-Filled or Foam Toys are not safety devices. Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as "water wings", "noodles", or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
- Avoid Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.
- Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called "hypoxic blackout” or “shallow water blackout”) and drown.
- Know how to prevent recreational water illnesses. For more information about illnesses from recreational water, see the More Information section below.
- Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.
Click here for more information about factors that increase drowning risk and how to prevent potentially deadly accidents in swimming pools and in lakes and at the beach.