Drowning danger still high, officials urge water safety
With the Colorado River at extremely low levels, the temptation to enjoy the water without a life jacket is great. But the Utah Department of Health estimates that 26 Utahns die from unintentional drowning each year, with infants to four-year olds having the highest rates of drowning deaths.
Data from 2007-2016 indicate that 33 percent of drowning deaths among children aged 0-18 occurred in an open body of water, such as a river, lake, canal or reservoir. An additional 30 percent of child drownings occurred in a pool, 18 percent occurred in a bathtub, and 9 percent occurred in other locations. While the number of child drownings in Utah often increases during years with high spring runoff, more than half (56 percent) of these deaths occurred in the summer months between June and August.
“One of the more common scenarios we see is a young child wandering off during a family event unnoticed and falling into a water source such as a river, pond or canal. It’s important for parents to be aware of water sources around them and to designate an adult to watch the kids to make sure they don’t wander off. Adults can take turns being the ‘water watcher’ so that everyone has a good time and stays safe,” said Teresa Brechlin, with the UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program.
Water is dangerous at any depth, says Brechlin, and it can take just seconds for a child to drown. Some of the things you can do to make sure that your child stays safe are: designate an adult to be the ‘water watcher’ during group gatherings; wear life jackets while boating and in open bodies of water; enclose pools and hot tubs with self-closing and locking gates/fences.
Never leave an infant or young child alone in the bathtub, said Brechlin. When not in use, drain kiddie pools and buckets. Teach children to always swim with an adult. Learn CPR. “If you are having a hard time locating your child, check areas where they might gain access to water first,” she said.