Drowning Leading Cause Of Injury Death For Young Utah Children
One year ago this month, five Utah children ages 15 and under lost their lives in separate drowning incidents.
Most of these drownings were typical in that the toddlers drowned while they were out of their parents' sight and the teen deaths each took place among a group of peers. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) reports that, among Utah children ages 14 and under, drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death.
Lack of proper supervision is almost always a factor in the drownings of young children. "There are so many ways a child can drown and it can happen so fast parents must be constantly aware of what their children are doing," said Trisha Keller, Manager of the UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program. "They can die in seconds in a bathtub, backyard pond, fast-moving creek, or a community or residential pool - even with lifeguards present."
According to UDOH death certificate data, there were 10 drowning-related deaths among children ages 1-16 between May and August of 2006. This represents 77% of drowning deaths for the same age group for all of 2006. In most cases, the person who was supposed to be watching the child reported that they looked away, answered the phone, or left the area for "just a minute. " In some cases where toddlers wandered away from their homes and into the water, it was because a parent was unaware their little one had learned to unlock the door. Family gatherings are a particularly high risk drowning situation for young children because, though there are many adults around, no one in particular is designated to be the "child watcher."
For older children and teens, the problem is often that victims overestimate their swimming ability. Teens are most at risk in open water and boys are more likely to overestimate their swimming ability and take chances, particularly when swimming with friends. Peer pressure likely plays a role in many teen drowning deaths.
For parents and caregivers, water safety tips that can prevent drowning are: