As summer swimming season kicks off this Memorial Day weekend, Safe Kids Worldwide and Nationwide's Make Safe Happen program are releasing a new report highlighting the danger of childhood drowning, with a specific focus on incidents that occur in lakes, rivers, oceans and other types of open water.
Key findings of the research include:
The report, Hidden Hazards: An Exploration of Open Water Drowning and Risks for Children, reveals that, while the number of fatal drownings among children and teens declined over the past several decades, the downward trend stopped between 2015 and 2016, when there was a 14 percent increase in fatal drownings. The 1,002 drownings in 2016 (latest data available) was the highest number in five years.
"Just because children can safely navigate water in a pool doesn't mean they'll be able to handle the challenges of open water," says Torine Creppy, president of Safe Kids Worldwide. "Lakes, rivers and oceans present a number of potential hazards—such as dangerous drop-offs, strong currents, hard-to-assess distances and limited visibility—that parents need to carefully consider before allowing their kids to wade in."
"Findings from our research underscore the importance of water safety, a key focus for Nationwide's Make Safe Happen cause initiative," says Lu Yarbrough III, Nationwide's associate vice president of Enterprise Diverse and Cause Marketing. "Our goal is to arm parents and caregivers with the information, tips and tools they need to take preventative action and ensure children can safely enjoy outdoor activities in and around water."
Keeping Kids Safe in Open Water
The report also features a variety of tips that parents and caregivers can use to keep children safe in and around open water. These include: