Local child drowning stats on the rise

ARC shares four rules of the water



A community pool, a local hotel pool, a home pool, and even in an unexpected place like a bath tub – these are the locations of the four drowning deaths recorded in Austin so far this year. That represents three more deaths in 2019 than in all of last year and we’re only one month into summer vacation. All of the victims were under 10 years old. 

I wish I could say that something preventable such as drowning is a rare occurrence. It’s not. In the U.S., drowning takes an average of 3,500 to 4,000 lives per year. That’s about 10 fatal drownings per day.

These tragedies occur more often during summer months, when bathing suits become uniforms. While pool time equals fun time in every young child’s mind, it is also when parents need to be extra vigilant.

Four rules of the water

You already know that young children need appropriate adult supervision when swimming at the beach or pool. This also means making sure there is an appropriate adult-to-child ratio. If there are too many kids and not enough adults, then not everyone is being adequately monitored.

Children also need to take regular breaks when playing in the water. A combination of swimming and sun tires out children quickly which can cause them to sink due to fatigue. 

Safe Kids Worldwide reports that in nine out of 10 drownings, parents or caregivers say they were supervising the child at the time. We know that kids, especially young ones, can get out of sight in seconds. And mere seconds is all it takes when it comes to drowning. 

Drowning is fast and silent. It can happen in less than a minute, leaving little time to get help. It also doesn’t occur like you see in movies — there isn’t always splashing, thrashing or yells for help. For toddlers, in particular, they can silently sink to the bottom of the water like a rock. 

In partnership with the Texas Drowning Prevention Alliance, Austin Regional Clinic recently created water safety reminder cards with four simple rules.

  • Watch all children in the water 100 percent of the time.
  • Check the bottom of the pool often.
  • Do not use my cell phone at the pool.
  • Call 911 and give CPR.

As a pediatrician who cares for hundreds of little children, it deeply saddens me when a drowning has occurred. These are preventable. Whenever a child is near water, be 110 percent attentive 100 percent of the time.

Deborah Countie, MD, is a pediatrician at Austin Regional Clinic – Wilson

Parke, in the Trails at 620 off of RM 620 N. (737)-247-7200.