May is National Water Safety Month and as temperatures heat up and families return to water activities, it is important for parents and families to stay aware of the precautions they can take to prevent child drownings.
In Louisiana, drowning was the third leading cause of injury-related death in children ages 0-14 for the 2017-2019 period, according to the most recent Louisiana Child Death Review Report from the Louisiana Department of Health’s (LDH) Bureau of Family Health. Top risk factors included child unable to swim (96%), not supervised (72%) and no barriers to water (54%). Of children who died in Louisiana, over half (60%) drowned in a pool, hot tub or spa.
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. According to preliminary LDH data, in 2021, 25 infants and children in Louisiana drowned.
“Tragically, the number of children in Louisiana we have lost to drowning continues to increase," said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. "I urge everyone to follow a few simple, but critical steps to keep you and your children safe around the water we all love to enjoy.”
Families can take several important precautions to help prevent drowning:
- Watch children when they are in or around water at all times; avoid getting distracted.
- Teach children how to swim and water survival skills.
- Take CPR classes. Visit cpr.heart.org to find a class near you.
- 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.
- Swim in designated swimming areas and use extreme caution around natural bodies of water which may have unpredictable currents and undertow.
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.