After five consecutive years of decreasing child drownings in Louisiana, 2020 was one of the deadliest in recent history. Louisiana experienced a 60% increase in the number of infant and child drownings (ages 0-14), from 15 in 2019 to 24 in 2020. As warmer weather arrives, it is important for parents and families to stay aware of the precautions they can take to prevent child drownings.
"Water safety and drowning prevention efforts remain as important as ever, especially as families return to water activities at pools, lakes and beaches," said Dr. Joseph Kanter, State Health Officer. "Louisiana's latest numbers confirm that most child drownings occur in the warmer months and among children ages 1-4. This year, I urge everyone to take critical steps to reverse the upward trend in fatal child drownings."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 2017-19 show that Louisiana has the fourth highest drowning rate for children 1-14 years in the United States, and drowning remains the third leading cause of death for Louisiana children in this age group.
Families can take several important precautions:
- Watch children when they are in or around water at all times; avoid getting distracted.
- Teach children how to swim.
- If you own a pool or spa, install layers of protection, including a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating or participating in other water activities.
“Parents and guardians can also prepare for potential emergencies by taking a CPR training class and learning basic water rescue skills,” said Dr. Kanter. Visit cpr.heart.org for a training center in your area.
The Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health, Bureau of Family Health leads the Louisiana Child Death Review Panel, which reviews unexpected child deaths in order to reduce future injury and deaths. Child drowning prevention is a priority for the Child Death Review Panel. The Bureau of Family Health has secured Consumer Product Safety Commission Pool Safely grant funds to prevent child drownings and drain entrapments in pools and spas, and is working with community partners to provide swim lessons, water safety education, and training for pool contractors and inspectors.
Through these programs, and by following water safety tips and sharing ready-to-use resources, we can help prevent drownings among Louisiana children and youth. PoolSafely.gov has brochures, Water Watcher cards, fact sheets, social media tools, videos and much more to help spread the word.