Swimming Season Surfaces Need for Water Safety Training
On April 1, a 16-year-old Mansfield teen went missing in the Gulf of Mexico near Corpus Christi while visiting the beach during a class trip. Friends said the teen, whose body was later found, was not a strong swimmer.
Around 11 a.m. on April 2, Fort Worth police responded to a missing child report. The boy, 5, was eventually discovered in a pool where officers jumped in to save him. He was taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center, but it was too late.
Then just days later, a 4-year-old died on April 5 after being pulled from Lake Arlington. He had been fishing just prior to being found unresponsive in the water.
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for kids between the ages of 5 and 14. According to the Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition, Tarrant County ranks top 3 in Texas for total and per-capita pediatric drowning deaths, and Texas ranks no. 1 for pool drowning deaths in the nation.
The peak drowning season hasn’t even arrived yet for 2016 – most swimming-related tragedies occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with Fourth of July historically the most dangerous – and already Tarrant County is swimming in water-related deaths among kids.
Contrary to what many may assume, childhood drowning deaths typically don’t result from neglectful parenting. Of kids who drown, 88 percent are under adult supervision and 60 percent are within 10 feet of safety. All families are susceptible regardless of race, economic status or education level, although African American and Latino children are particularly at risk due to higher rates of children with low or no swimming ability (70 percent and 60 percent, respectively).
Despite these staggering statistics, 100 percent of drowning deaths are preventable. Access to water safety training is a key solution to turning the tide in North Texas. That’s where partners of the Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition come in, providing no-to-low cost mobile swimming and water safety instruction for both children and adults.
The North Texas Community Foundation recently became aware that one of those coalition partners, Fort Worth YMCA, planned to teach swimming lessons at 20 local apartment complexes. Many of the targeted neighborhoods are home to low income families that may otherwise be unable to afford swim lessons.
A few donors with funds at the North Texas Community Foundation who have an interest in this area of giving were notified of the program as a funding opportunity. Ultimately, the Community Foundation was able to award $17,500 in support of the effort.
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Good to Know
- Drowning is not what most people think – it’s quick and silent with no thrashing around.
- Child-related drownings can happen in very low levels of water, including bathtubs, ponds, septic tanks and lakes.
- Children under one year of age most often drown inside the house, while older children most often drown in venues outside the home – especially in backyard and apartment pools.