Ventura County Emergency Services kicks off summer with drowning prevention tips
June has been a tragic month in Ventura County when it comes to accidental drowning. Over four days, June 8 - 11, four Ventura County residents drowned in residential swimming pools. One was only 10-years-old.
“As summer officially begins on June 21st, Ventura County Emergency Medical Services (VCEMS) wants to remind all parents that practicing proper water safety saves lives,” said Steve Carroll, VCEMS Administrator. “Drowning is the number one cause of injury-related death among children ages 1-4 and yet it is completely preventable.”
Since 2000, 141 Ventura County residents have died from accidental drowning with 13 of them being children under the age of 14. Nationally, about ten people die from drowning each day and, according to the World Health Organization, globally, 388,000 people drown each year.
To stay safe in and around water, VCEMS advises following these ten water safety tips:
- Supervise when in and around water – Designate a responsible adult to watch young children in the bath or when they are swimming or playing around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch supervision” and be close enough to reach the child at all times. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity – talking on the phone, reading, eating, visiting with friends - even when lifeguards are present.
- Use the Buddy System – Always swim with a buddy and, whenever possible, select swimming sites that have lifeguards.
- Seizure Disorder Safety – If you or a family member has a seizure disorder, provide one-on-one supervision around water.
- Learn to Swim – Formal swimming lessons can help protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision are still important.
- Learn CPR – In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, CPR skills can save someone’s life.
- Air-filled or foam toys are not safety devices – Don’t use toys like “water wings,” “noodles” or inner-tubes instead of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
- Avoid alcohol – Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, water skiing or when supervising children.
- Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time – This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “shallow water blackout”) and drown.
- Know what drowning looks like – Unlike in the movies, children and adults do not splash around or call for help when drowning. Drowning can be a quiet, almost invisible event. A drowning individual may appear to be dog-paddling or treading water but in actuality, they are experiencing a silent struggle to survive.
- Know the local weather conditions before swimming, boating or surfing - Strong winds, high tides and riptides can turn a day of fun into a tragedy.
For more information, visit VCEMS’ drowning prevention web page at www.vchca.org/ems/drowning-prevention-program.