Already this year more than three dozen Texas children have died in drowning accidents, according to numbers supplied by the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services; Children in Dallas-Fort Worth account for 14 of those deaths — the most in the state.
Four of the most recent drownings in DFW took place in the last two weeks; three of those deaths were siblings and the fourth, a 6-year-old boy, died after drowning in an apartment pool Wednesday.
Another child, a 7-year-old girl who remains hospitalized, was unconscious when she was pulled from the bottom of a pool in Fort Worth Wednesday afternoon.
As of this writing on June 2, 38 Texas children have drowned in the state in 2015, with more in North Texas (14) than anywhere else. The Houston area, which is second on the list, has recorded seven child drowning deaths this year. The DFPS said more than 400 Texas children have drowned in the last five years — with most of the tragedies occurring between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The upcoming holiday weekend is historically among the most dangerous for children who spend part of the Fourth of July in area pools and lakes. According to the Consumer Product and Safety Commission, on average, more than 20 children in the U.S. drown in pools and spas during the Fourth of July holiday week.
That staggering number of preventable deaths leads many to issue reminders about how to have a fun, but safe, time in the water.
“Drowning is not what you think – it’s quick and silent and happens before you know it,” said Judge John Specia, commissioner of the DFPS. “I urge all Texans to keep a very close watch on children as they head outdoors for this holiday weekend. And watch a child closely any time around water.”
Drownings can happen in very low levels of water and have occurred in swimming pools, ponds, bathtubs, hot tubs, lakes, a marina and even a septic tank, the DFPS said.
“Children under the age of one year most often drown inside the house, while older children most often drown outdoors. Outdoors, children most often drown in pools, especially backyard and apartment pools,” the DFPS said. “Most young children who drown in pools were out of sight less than five minutes and were in the care of one or both parents at the time. Indoors, the bathtub is the most dangerous location.”
The DFPS urges all parents, caregivers, and adults to “watch kids around water” not just during weekends, but all summer long, and year-round.
“We can all make a difference just by being more aware of what is happening around us,” said Specia.
Tips for Safe Swimming This Summer
Bring a buddy: don’t swim alone even at public pools or lifeguarded beaches.
Never leave young children unattended near water and never trust a child’s life with another child.
Establish a Water Watcher to supervise children in the water. This person should NOT be reading, using a smartphone or otherwise distracted. Young children and inexperienced swimmers should always wear U.S. Coast Guard-Approved life jackets.
Establish rules, and always enforce them. Don’t let children play around drains or suction fittings. Also, don’t let children have breath-holding competitions.
Don’t assume children will use good judgment around water.
Store and secure small toys away from the water when not in use so they don’t attract a small child.
Be aware: Cold temperatures, currents, and jagged rocks at rivers and lakes can make water dangerous.
Always wear a life jacket on a boat. Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
Don’t drink and swim. Alcohol impairs balance, coordination, and judgement. Sign up for swimming lessons if you’ve never had them. Always swim in areas supervised by lifeguards where available.
Learn how to perform CPR on adults and children.