Drowning, leading cause of death in children under 5; what you should know

ST. GEORGE – A recent child drowning in St. George over Easter weekend serves as a tragic reminder of the risks associated with children around water features. While risks may not be wholly eliminated, there are safety recommendations and trainings that can help minimize those risks.

Often times it is difficult to recognize the signs when a child is drowning, even when you are near the child. There is very little splashing and no yelling or calls for help. Drowning can happen to anyone’s child, in an instant and right in front of you.

Each day in the United States, three children die and five others are hospitalized, often with serious health complications, as a result of drowning. Drownings are the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4, and the second-leading cause of accidental death for all children under age 14, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Nonetheless, many of these tragedies are preventable with education, awareness and supervision.

Ways to prevent drowning include taking basic swimming lessons, isolating pools with fences, supervising children, wearing lifejackets while boating, and learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, according to the CDC. Formal swimming lessons have also been shown to reduce the risk of drowning among infants and very young children.

At what age?

In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised against swimming lessons for children under the age of 3 because there was little evidence that lessons prevented drowning or resulted in better swim skills, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. There was also a concern parents would become less vigilant about supervising a child who had learned some swimming skills.

However, according to the site, new evidence shows that children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction.

“Water safety is important at any age, but is especially crucial if you have babies or toddlers in your home,” according to the Kids Health website. “Drowning can happen very quickly and in less than 1 inch of water.”

Infant Swimming Resource

Infant Swim, currently taught in the St. George area by Robyn Lamoreaux, is a unique system of survival techniques designed to keep kids afloat in any body of water until help arrives. Going beyond traditional swim instruction, children as young as 6-months-old are taught how to survive alone in open water during the Infant Swim self-rescue training.

“At the end of the lesson we do a series of tests where you have the infant in different angles & put them down in the water and they go down close to the bottom and then come right back up to their backs,” Lamoreaux said. “I also put them in clothes the last week to pass it off. They wear their summer clothes and their winter clothes just so that they know that if they’re in a situation that they can always get to their back from whatever it is – if it’s a bath tub, if it’s a hot tub, if it’s a lake – that they can get there.”

Lamoreaux said that floating is much better than treading water – often one of the first skills taught in traditional swimming lessons – because gravity pulls you down into the water and you get tired. Once kids are on their backs, it takes pretty much no energy; they can just sit and rest on their back and get their bearings, she said.

“It is not a guarantee,” Lamoreaux said. “There are some children who have been in ISR who have still drowned but it’s an added protection. It buys you time. It buys you time to get to your child. It buys you time to be able to hear your child screaming for help. Where drowning is so silent. I remember claims that whatever happens, your child can be in there for 40 minutes and they’ll still be fine, and that’s not necessarily true, but it will buy you time that they can get to their backs and float until help arrives.”

Video courtesy of Infant Swimming Resource


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