Let’s talk about the dangers of teens and drowning. While drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged one to four, it is also the second leading cause of preventable deaths in children through the age of 15. In fact, according to National Safety Council (NSC), 353 people aged five to 24 drowned in 2017.
Not only that, but according to the USA Swimming statistics that Life Saver Pool Fence reports each month, 11 teens have already died by accidental drowning in just the first three months of this year. That’s before pool season has even begun.
Below are some preventative measures that teens can take to avoid potentially harmful circumstances.
Teens and Drowning: Prevention
Let’s be honest. Teens can sometimes be reckless. They often think they’re invincible. It is this innate curiosity and impulsiveness that may prevent them from noticing a potentially dangerous situation. However, a little preparedness is all that’s needed to keep a fun day from turning tragic.
Here are a few water safety pitfalls that are common amongst teens, and how they can be avoided:
According to a Lifesaving Society survey, 97% of parents say that they are confident in their teen’s ability to stay safe around water; yet, 47% of those same teens have never even taken swim lessons, or haven’t taken any in more than five years. While these parents are well-meaning, it is never safe to assume that someone with no swim training will know what to do in the case of a water emergency. Swimming lessons can absolutely help to save your teen’s life.
Alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation. It is also involved in about half of all male teen drownings. When you drink alcohol, it affects coordination and judgment. Adolescents and adults should avoid drinking before or during water activities, including swimming and boating, in any type of water environment like pools, oceans or hot tubs.
Swimming in open water demands a separate skillset than swimming in the pool. More than half of fatal and nonfatal drowning incidents involving teenagers aged 15 years and older took place in natural water settings. To prevent these situations, teens should be prepared to recognize dangerous water conditions, such as choppy waves. They should also be trained in what to do should they get caught in a rip current – that is, to swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, drowning caused 72% of the boating deaths in 2010. Of those tragic incidents, 88% of the victims failed to wear a life jacket. If your teen is lucky enough to take a boat out to sea this summer, they may feel uncool wearing a life jacket in front of their friends. However, the truth is, a proper floatation device can significantly reduce their risk of water injuries. Just be sure that it’s U.S. Coast Guard-approved and that you know the difference between life jackets and buoyancy vests.
Teens and drowning are a worrisome combo. Having a tendency to seek out fun can be a great trait for a teen to have; however, it can also sometimes lead to trouble if they aren’t prepared. A brief but thorough refresher of water safety basics may prove to be the difference between an enjoyable day and one ending in tragedy.