August 2011 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share!

Summertime in Maine offers many fun activities for families. But between the months of May and August, drowning deaths for children increase 89% over the rest of the year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-14 years old and the fifth leading cause of death for people of all ages in the United States, ranking second only to automobile accidents. Nearly 750 children ages 14 and under died in 2007 in the United States due to unintentional drowning. Many more children are injured due to a near drowning incident. A parent or a caregiver stated they were supervising their children in almost 9 out of 10 drowning related deaths. The highest risk of drowning occurs between the ages of 1 and 4 years old.

About half of all drowning accidents occur in natural water settings like lakes, rivers, and oceans. About 19% occurred in swimming pools and about 9% occurred in boating incidents.

Most children are attracted to the water. Toddlers need close supervision because their capabilities change on a daily basis.

Safety tips for swimmers and boaters include making an investment in formal swimming lessons and learn to swim!; provide constant, careful supervision when children are around or in the water; learn CPR; never swim alone; look for underwater hazards and avoid rip currents; use life jackets; avoid alcohol; take a boating safety course; know the weather forecast and do not swim during thunderstorms; fence off backyard swimming pools and remove ladders leading from the ground to a pool when the pool is not in use; do not let children operate personal water crafts; do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision; do not leave children’s toys around a pool or in a pool; and always jump into a body of water feet first.

Drowning can occur in the winter too. Beware of thin ice.

For more information visit www.safekids.org; www.cpsc.gov; www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov; www.safeboatingcouncil.org; and www.cdc.gov.

Be safe and enjoy the rest of the summer!

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