TOPEKA – (May 22, 2015) – With summer heat fast approaching, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the State Child Death Review Board today reminded Kansans to safeguard children from drowning and other water hazards they may encounter during outdoor activities.
The summer months are a time when children are frequently outdoors enjoying warmer temperatures and the plentiful sunshine that Kansas summers provide. Certain precautionary measures can be taken to ensure a safe and fun-filled summer:
- Water conditions: Lakes, ponds and ditches often contain murky water and tangled branches or other items that pose a potential danger to swimmers. Research these areas and become familiar with possible dangers such as large rocks and underwater currents. Know water depth and underwater hazards before allowing children to jump into any body of water. It is also advised to check local weather conditions prior to swimming or boating as thunderstorms with lightning or strong winds could be fatal.
- Unattended/unsupervised swimming: Between 2005 and 2012, the SCDRB reviewed 77 drowning deaths. In 83 percent of those cases, the child victims were unsupervised at the time of the accidents. A responsible adult should always supervise water play in swimming pools, ponds or lakes and be free of distractions such as reading or using electronic devices. In crowded swimming areas, an extra step of assigning a “swim buddy” should be taken to minimize the risk of drowning. In addition, pools and hot tubs should be secured with safety equipment to avoid water-related accidents.
- Importance of swimming lessons: Children, including teens, should take swimming lessons to ensure a minimum level of skill before engaging in outdoor water activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics water safety guidelines issued in 2010 cite evidence suggesting that children may be less likely to drown if they have had safety and swimming instruction. The use of life jackets and other portable flotation devices is also recommended for children when riding in a boat. Small children and non-swimmers should also wear one at water’s edge such as on a river bank or a pier.
The State Child Death Review Board was created by the Kansas Legislature in 1992 and is administered by the Office of the Kansas Attorney General. This multi-agency, multi-disciplinary volunteer board meets monthly to examine circumstances surrounding the deaths of Kansas children (birth to 17 years of age), and is charged with making policy recommendations aimed at reducing the number of preventable child deaths.
For additional information on keeping children safe, visit the attorney general’s website at www.ag.ks.gov.