May is National Water Safety Month and as temperatures warm and families resume water activities, it’s important for parents and families to stay aware of the precautions they can take to prevent child drowning. .
In Louisiana, drowning was the third leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 0-14 for 2017-2019, according to the most recent Louisiana Child Death Review Report from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Office of Family Health. The main risk factors included a child unable to swim (96%), unsupervised (72%) and no water obstacle (54%). Of the children who died in Louisiana, more than half (60%) drowned in a swimming pool, hot tub or spa.
After five straight years of declining child drownings in Louisiana, 2020 was one of the deadliest in recent history. Louisiana has seen 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’ve lost to drowning continues to rise,” said state health officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “I urge everyone to follow a few simple but essential 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:
- Supervise children when they are in or around water at all times; avoid getting distracted.
- Teach children to swim and survive in water.
- Take CPR classes. To visit heart.orgto find a class near you.
- If you have a pool or spa, install layers of protection, including a four-sided fence with a self-closing and latching door.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid traps.
- Wear a US Coast Guard approved life jacket when boating or participating in other water activities.
- Swim in designated swimming areas and exercise extreme caution around natural bodies of water which may have unpredictable currents and undertows.
By following water safety tips and sharing ready-to-use resources, we can help prevent drownings in Louisiana children and youth. PoolSafely.gov has brochures, Water Watcher maps, fact sheets, social media tools, videos and much more.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health throughout the state and to ensure access to medical, preventive, and rehabilitative services for all state residents. To learn more, visit www.ldh.la.gov.