Drowning Rates Increasing During COVID-19 Pandemic

Safe Kids Greater Houston reminds parents of top tips to keep kids safe around water this summer, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic

[Houston, TX ] — As the weather heats up and families are staying at home  and socially distancing, more families are searching for water-related activities to keep their children busy.  Several children have died due to drowning in the greater Houston region in recent weeks. There are more who have been treated at area hospitals. Safe Kids Greater Houston wants to remind parents and caregivers to learn about common drowning hazards and actively supervise children at all times when they’re in and around water.

For a video of water safety tips from local experts, visit: (Video Link) May Day May Day!!! Safe Kids Greater Houston 2020

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1-4, and one of the top 5 causes of death for children and many adults. On average, about 1,000 children die each year due to unintentional drowning and more than 5,000 are seen in emergency rooms for complications from non-ta downing incidents.

“A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help so simply being near your child doesn’t always help,” said Diana Martinez, coordinator of Safe Kids Greater Houston. “Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a dip in the community or backyard pool, you can ensure that swimming is as safe as it is fun by following a few basic safety tips starting with keeping your eyes on your kids at all times.”

Each tip below has a corresponding video and/or graphic

Safe Kids Greater Houston recommends the following tips to keep kids safe in and around water:

  1. Give kids your undivided attention. Actively supervise children in and around water, without distraction and implement layers of protection to protect your family.
  2. Use the Water Watcher strategy. When there are multiple adults present and children are swimming, use the Water Watcher card strategy, which designates an adult as the Water Watcher for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision and give parents a chance to read, make phone calls or take a bathroom break. Visit www.safekidsgreaterhouston.org  to download a water watcher card. (Video Link) Water Watcher Safe Kids Greater Houston 2020

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Emh7y7zpwDY&feature=youtu.be

  1. Create barriers between your child(ren) and the water. Whether you’re swimming in a backyard or at a community pool, make sure that you prevent children from gaining unexpected access to water. (Video Link) Backyard Pool Safety- Safe Kids Greater Houston 2020
    • All windows and doors that lead to water should be closed, locked and alarmed (if possible) at all times
    • Install self-closing and self-latching gates, that are at least 4 feet high and non-climbable
    • Inflatable/kiddie pools should be emptied after each use and placed upside down or hung up out of a child’s reach

(Video Link) Inflatable Pools- Safe Kids Greater Houston 2020

  1. Continue practicing sanitation and social distancing. While chemically treated water may have protective factors, families should plan ahead to ensure safe cleaning practices are upheld when at a pool or beach. Be sure to wipe down furniture and commonly used surfaces. It is also important to create distance between your family and others and avoid overcrowding areas.

(Video Link) Apartment/community pool- Safe Kids Greater Houston 2020  

  1. Wear life jackets when in and around open water. When visiting a local beach or lake, it is important for adults and children to wear a correctly fitted, Coast Guard approved life jacket.  If a lifeguard is present ask them for safety tips to keep your family safe while there. It is also important to learn the meaning of beach warning flags, and other important signage.
  2. Know CPR. If a drowning event occurs, bystander CPR increases the likelihood that a child will survive and reduces the possibility of long-term effects.  Before heading to a pool or local lake or beach, identify which adults know CPR and review steps.

For more information about drowning and water safety, please visit www.safekidsgreaterhouston.org.

About Safe Kids Greater Houston

Safe Kids Greater Houston works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Its members include local law enforcement, healthcare, EMS, non-profits, county level organizations, and family advocates.  Safe Kids Greater Houston has been working in the greater Houston community for over 20 years and is led by Texas Children’s Hospital.  For more information, visit www.safekidsgreaterhouston.org.