Child drowning is the number one killer for children 1 to 4

Jul 11, 2023, 2:00 PM

A lifeguard at the Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center watches swimmers....

A lifeguard at the Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center watches swimmers. (Mengshin Lin/ Deseret News)

(Mengshin Lin/ Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning has now surpassed childhood disease as the number one killer among children ages 1 to 4.

In an interview with Dave and Dujanovic on Monday, Utah Downing Prevention Coalition spokeswoman, McKell Christensen said, “Drowning is on the rise and it is something that we need to be very conscious of as parents and adults or caregivers of children especially here in Utah … our canals, rivers, and lakes are running much higher and colder this year. It’s definitely a conversation that we need to have with our families about when it’s appropriate to be in the water and when it’s not, making sure that we’re vigilant as water watchers and caregivers.”

Why is drowning on the rise? 

In short, we’re not doing enough, Christensen said.

With warmer temperatures and the allure of lakes and pools, families are looking for a fun way to cool off. It is more important than ever to make sure that parents put away their devices and watch their kids.

Additionally, it is crucial for parents to actively supervise their children rather than relying on lifeguards who are responsible for the safety of the pool as a whole and do not have the ability to keep an eye on individual children.

At a lake, it’s even more important to put the distractions away and play with and pay attention to your children. 

The Utah Drowning Prevention Coalition said nine out of 10 child drownings happen when a caregiver is supervising, but not paying attention.

Child drowning prevention

Children who take swim lessons are 88% less likely to drown than children who do not. Enrolling children in swim lessons is a crucial step in ensuring child safety. 

“There are barriers that prevent people from accessing swim lessons and public pools,” said Christensen.

Along with educating children, parents should also make sure that they are aware of the dangers of water. Learning how to swim is one-way parents can help their children. Teaching children water safety is crucial to preventing child drowning. 

“When parents don’t know how to swim… their kids are much more likely to not understand the dangers of water,” said Christensen.

When asked how long it takes for a child to drown once they go into the water Christensen said, “Seconds. That’s why it’s so important to be vigilant, watching, and engaged with your kids in the water. That’s the best way to prevent [drowning].”

Christensen ended with, “Whether you’re at a pool or a lake, you’re your child’s best defense against drowning”


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Child drowning is the number one killer for children 1 to 4