(ATLANTIC) Governor Terry Branstad has proclaimed this week, June 17-23, as Drowning Prevention Week in Iowa.
According to the CDC, about ten people die each day from unintentional drowning. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury for children between the ages of one and five.
Offering some advice, Melanie Dunphy, Aquatic Director at the Nishna Valley Family YMCA and manager of the Sunnyside Pool in Atlantic, says it is important that parents are responsible for their children, even when lifeguards are on duty.
“Parents really need to be within arms reach of their kids, of their children that do not know how to swim very well, particularly five and under is what we see the most. I know at the YMCA we offer life jackets to the kids that aren’t that good at swimming in the water,” said Dunphy. “Kids can actually drown in three seconds, so just be very close to them and make sure you are watching every move that they make.”
Dunphy said she also discourages holding your breath underwater for too long.
“First of all they are floating on the water and their face is down, they look like they are drowning to us, so we’re watching and paying attention to them and being the lifeguard wondering do we need to go. So, if we see kids doing that we highly discourage it,” said Dunphy. “Another reason we highly discourage it is because of shallow water blackout. People can actually blackout in the water and then they usually end up drowning.”
Formal swimming lessons have also been shown to reduce the risk of drowning in children and provide essential skills to swimmers of all ages.