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Summertime fun around water must be carefully monitored

One of the hallmark activities of summer is spending time in the water. No matter where you choose to do this, you need to ensure that you are being as safe as possible. Drownings and near drownings can put a halt on the summertime fun in an instant.

Anyone who is going to spend time near water this summer should learn a little bit about drownings so that they are aware of what can happen. This might help them to remain vigilant as they are enjoying the day.

Age doesn't matter

People of all ages can be involved in a drowning or near drowning. Children who are 14 and younger account for around 20 percent of the fatal drowning victims, but for every single child who dies of this cause, there are another five who suffer injuries that require emergency room care.

A person's gender can increase the risk factor, as can race. Males account for around 80 percent of drowning victims. African Americans are much more likely than whites to be involved in a drowning. This is especially true in swimming pool incidents.

Prevention is the key

While some tragedies are unavoidable, most drowning deaths could have been prevented with proper preparation and oversight. Professional swimming lessons can reduce the risk, even in children as young as 1 to 4 years old. It isn't a foolproof preventative. There was a story in May of this year about a Chicago Fire Department diver who lost his life during a dive. This shows that even expert swimmers can still be killed in the water.

Adults should make sure that they are watching children who are near water. Nothing should distract them from keeping an eye on the kids. Adults who aren't charged with overseeing the minors should still remain watchful.

Swimming pools and other water attractions should be secured. Ideally, they will have a fence that is at least four feet tall around them. A gate that is self latching should also be present to prevent the possibility that a small child will gain access to a pool without adult supervision.

Severity of near drowning injuries

There are many aftereffects that can come from a near drowning. More than half of victims treated in the emergency room require further care in the hospital or transfer to another facility. Even with the best care, there can be serious brain injuries that are the result of lack of oxygen to the brain, otherwise known as hypoxia. Some victims will remain in a vegetative state while others might have severe mental disabilities.

In addition to brain injuries, the lungs are often damaged in near drowning incidents. Victims can suffer from pneumonia or other infections from microbes in the water they inhale. For children and adults, there can be a long-term terror associated with submersion. Even non-fatal swimming accidents are serious.

Remember that swimmers who are drowning do not resemble those on television shows and movies. People who are drowning do not splash loudly and call for help. A distressed swimmer may do these things, and help should be provided immediately. A drowning swimmer cannot call out or wave for help. They struggle for air, bobbing low in the water and often not kicking at all. These victims fall under the water quietly and can escape the notice of people who don't know the signs.

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