Friday, May 27, 2011

Activity or Life Skill?

For most part, the average parent believes that learning to swim is a great summer activity that can lead to being able to just drop the child off at the pool for the day. There are some that want their child to learn to swim because they never had a chance to take classes. And then there are those of us that believe that learning to swim is a life skill.

Why a life skill? Well, because if taught properly and with consistancy, what your child learns now in a Learn To Swim Class can actually help prevent a drowning for all of their life. But again only if they were in a class situation that teaches the child how to make good decisions around water and the aquatic environment. Learning just to swim a stroke or two is never enough.

According to the website drowning statistics," every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years."

The site also states that "in 2007, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) in the United States, averaging ten deaths per day. An additional 496 people died from drowning in boating-related incidents."

Other statistics listed are that 80% of drownings are male and that more than one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rate and for every child who dies from drowning, another four received emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries

Those considered high risk for drowning are males, children ages 1 to 4 ,and minorities.

Factors that influence drownings include risk include:
Lack of Supervision and Barriers
Natual Water Settings (such as lakes, rivers, or the ocean).
Lack of Life Jacket Use in Recreational Boating.
Alcohol Use
Seizure Disorders (bath tubs, wading pools, etc)

What has research found out? The CDC site states that:

  • Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1 to 4 years.

  • Seconds count. CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to improve outcomes in drowning victims. The more quickly intervention occurs, the better change of improved outcomes.

  • A CDC study about self-reported swimming ability15 found that:

  •           Younger adults reported greater swimming ability than older adults.
              Self-reported ability increased with level of education.
             Among racial groups, African Americans reported the most limited swimming ability.
             Men of all ages, races, and educational levels consistently reported greater swimming ability
               than women.

    What are the best ways of preventing drowning? Steps towards this, listed on the site are:
            Supervision when in or around the Water
            Buddy System
            Seizure Disorder Safety
            Learn To Swim
            Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
            Do Not Use Air-Filled or Foam Toys
            Avoid Alcohol

    But we would like to add two more prevention methods:
           Be selective of where and who your child learns to swim from
           Select a program that understands and and teaches water safety in a manner that young children
             understand and will remember. Select a program that teaches water safety and right choices
              around water in every lesson and not just one.

    We believe it is an important life skill that children learn to swim. After all, most that drown never intended to get in the water.

    *  Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet can be viewed at