Summer in Maryland is hot. Very hot. An average July “high” temperature in Maryland reaches a scorching 91 degrees. It is no wonder that many Maryland residents take to the waterways to cool off during these blistering summer months. In fact, while kids are out of the classrooms, enjoying time by the water can provide a calm, cool, and entertaining way to spend the day. A word of caution to all: Drowning presents a major hazard to children. Children ages one to four have the highest drowning rates. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning causes the more fatalities in this age group than any other danger aside from a birth defect. This means that drowning is the number one preventable cause of death for a child aged one to four-years-old. This statistic does not account for children who barely escaped drowning. Even a short deprivation of oxygen to a child’s brain can result in a serious injury.
Understanding basic facts and misconceptions about drowning will help keep you and your loved ones safe this summer.
- Know the signs. If a person is drowning it is not a theatrical performance. Their legs will not flail and they will not always waive their arms about wildly in the air. Drowning is often nicknamed the “silent killer” because it is just that, silent. Look for a child’s mouth bobbing below the surface or one who cannot speak when spoken to.
- It happens on land. There is such a thing as “dry drowning” during which a person is no longer in the water but is continuing to drown. This is caused when a person breathes in water prior to being pulled from the water and triggers muscles in the airway to spasm. Children who have asthma or breathing issues are most at risk. This only accounts for one or two percent of all drownings but has the ability to permanently impair brain function in the same way as drowning.
- Teach kids to swim. The CDC reports a strong correlation between children who are not taught to swim and drowning. It is important for children to learn to swim as the chances of a child getting into water are pretty high. Remember that even a small amount of water can cause a child to drown and any small amount of water in the lungs presents a serious threat to their health.
- Life jackets matter. Taking small steps to ensure that a child is safe around the water can make a world of difference. Proper fitting life jackets are essential. Even when children are not necessarily planning on swimming, such as when they are passenger on a boat, recognizing that accidents can happen may save their lives.
- Learn CPR. If you are the parent or caregiver of a child learning CPR is essential. When it comes to drowning every second matters. The CDC reminds all caregivers that the sooner CPR is executed on a person suffering from a water-related injury, the more improved the outcome.