Drowning danger still high, health officials urge water safety

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) estimates that 26 Utahns die from unintentional drowning each year, with Utahns aged 0-4 having the highest rates of drowning deaths.

Data from 2007-2016 indicate that 33% of drowning deaths among children aged 0-18 occurred in an open body of water, such as a river, lake, canal, or reservoir. An additional 30% of child drownings occurred in a pool, 18% occurred in a bathtub, and 9% occurred in an “other” location. While the number of child drownings in Utah often increases during years with high spring runoff, more than half (56%) of these deaths occurred in the summer months between June and August.

“One of the more common scenarios we see is a young child wandering off during a family event unnoticed and falling into a water source such as a river, pond, or canal. It’s important for parents to be aware of water sources around them and to designate an adult to watch the kids to make sure they don’t wander off. Adults can take turns being the ‘water watcher’ so that everyone has a good time and stays safe,” said Teresa Brechlin, with the UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program.

Water is dangerous at any depth, and it can take just seconds for a child to drown. Some of the things you can do to make sure that your child stays safe are:

  • Designate an adult to be the ‘water watcher’ during group gatherings.
  • Everyone should wear a life jacket while boating and in open bodies of water.
  • Enclose pools and hot tubs with self-closing and locking gates/fences.
  • Never leave an infant or young child alone in the bathtub.
  • When not in use, drain kiddie pools and buckets.
  • Teach children to always swim with an adult.
  • Learn CPR.
  • If you are having a hard time locating your child, check areas where they might gain access to water first.

For more information on water safety, visit https://health.utah.gov/vipp/kids/water-safety/index.html.

Media Contact:
Katie McMinn
(c) 385-272-6306