CDC: 1 in 5 drowning deaths are children aged 14 and younger

CDC: 1 in 5 drowning deaths are children aged 14 and younger

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - It’s hot in southern Mississippi, and you may be using bodies of water to cool off, but with water comes the risk of drowning.

Drowning doesn’t always look like what it does in the movies. It’s often referred to as the ‘silent killer.'

Officials say the reality of drowning can look much different than what we may be used to seeing.

“Much of what we see, and we become accustomed to on drowning, we get from TV,” said Family YMCA of Southeast Mississippi Association Aquatics Director Dewey Case. “Which is the thrashing, and the people yelling and the overt signals. And, that’s not really it.”

It is also important to remember that drowning doesn’t always occur in deep bodies of water.

“Small children, you know, let’s say a 2-year-old, and one foot of water. Pretty innocuous,” Case said. “We think it’s pretty safe. However, because of the typical head size for a two-year-old, if they fall over, they can’t right themselves. And it’s very, very easy for something like that to happen.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five people that die as a result of drowning are children aged 14 or younger. They also say aside from birth defects, more children ages 1 through 4 die from drowning than any other cause of death. The CDC says drowning made up one-third of deaths from unintentional injuries in children ages 1 through 4 in 2014.

Officials say introducing water early in a child’s life is a good way to prevent drowning from occurring.

“We do know that the earlier that you get in with your child and the more regular that you get in with your child, and doing water orientation-playing, getting water in their face, getting water on their head, supervising your child while they do that, and getting them to enjoy the water, that sets up for proper swimming later on,” Case said.

When it comes to choosing which safety flotation device for your child to use, the CDC says life jackets are extremely important. They say even if your child knows how to swim, they should still wear a life jacket in and around natural bodies of water like lakes and oceans.

According to Case, it’s crucial to remember that drowning awareness isn’t just for children.

“There’s no one, whether you’re an Olympic swimmer or a small child, that’s immune from the risk of drowning,” said Case.

The CDC says because drowning often happens quickly and silently, children need to be watched at all times when around water.

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