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Open Water Drowning: A Risk All Parents Need to Know About

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After the cold and snow of winter, many Illinoisans look forward to the warm weather outdoor activities of summer. Swimming is one of the activities that is frequently enjoyed. However, swimming can also be risky. The risks of swimming pools are often discussed, but swimming pools aren’t the only places to swim in the summer and they aren’t the only swimming options that are risky.

A New Study Finds Most Childhood Drownings Occur in Open Water

In May 2018, Safe Kids Worldwide and Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen Program released a new report about childhood drownings. According to that report, in the United States:

  • Each year, approximately 1,000 kids die from drowning and nearly 7,000 children suffer non-fatal drowning injuries.
  • More children drown in open water sources than in swimming pools, bathtubs, and other water sources. Approximately 43 percent of childhood drownings occur in open water.
  • About 38 percent of open water drownings occur in lakes, 24 percent occur in rivers, 20 percent occur in ponds, and the rest occur in other open water sources.
  • The risk of open water drowning is greater for older children. For example, among children aged 15 to 19 years old, 9 percent of drownings occur in swimming pools and 73 percent of drownings occur in open water.

While males accounted for approximately 8 out of 10 open water drownings in 2016, it is important to remember that drowning is a risk for any child in open water, and all children should be watched carefully.

How to Keep Your Child Safe From Drowning in Open Water

Before you go to Illinois Beach State Park, Shawnee National Forest, or any other bay, creek, lake, river, or open water source it is important to:

  • Understand that swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool. Currents, sudden changes in water depth, and limited visibility in the water can all make open water swimming more difficult.
  • Make sure that your child is appropriately supervised. Children should always be supervised by adults who know what to do if a swimming emergency occurs.
  • Recognize the symptoms of drowning. Drowning doesn’t always happen as it does in the movies. It is often quieter and involves little splashing.

A child’s drowning is always tragic. Sometimes, a drowning is a tragic accident that could not have been prevented by attentive adults who were providing reasonable supervision. Other times, however, the tragedy could have been prevented by the supervising adults. If your child drowned and the adults responsible for your child failed to provide your child with reasonable care, then please contact our experienced Illinois personal injury lawyers today to discuss your family’s rights.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham

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