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Red Cross Urges Water Safety After Release of Drowning Stats

Water Safety
The Red Cross urges people to learn to swim and follow steps to remain safe around the water.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports 137 children in this country drowned in a swimming pool or spa between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year, and an additional 168 children required emergency treatment for near-drowning incidents. The American Red Cross is a CPSC partner and urges everyone to learn how to swim, and to follow important safety steps when around the water.

The report, part of CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign, studied drowning incidents in children younger than 15 years old. Though the traditional swimming season has ended for 2012, CPSC says with so many indoor community pools, hotel pools and spas, indoor water parks, as well as outdoor pools that remain open in warm-weather states, efforts should continue to help ensure children remain safe when around the water.

WATCH THE KIDS At least 100 of the 137 children who drowned were younger than age five. Almost 50 of these drownings occurred not long after the children left an adult, and 31 children drowned despite others being at the pool. Many children who drowned were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.

  • Never leave children alone when they are near the water. They should be constantly supervised.
  • If someone has a pool, they should secure the area with appropriate barriers.
  • Young children should never be left unattended near water, teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • TAKE SWIMMING LESSONS Children younger than age five represent 75 percent of child drowning fatalities. And reports show that 70 percent of African American children and 62 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, leaving them especially vulnerable around the water. TheRed Cross urges people to learn to swim and follow steps to remain safe around the water. Almost two million people of all ages learn to swim each year through Red Cross programs. People can contact their local pool to find out when Red Cross water safety courses are being offered. They can also download water safety tips in English or Spanish.

    SAFETY HELP FOR POOL OWNERS The Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF) have developed an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners. Home Pool Essentials helps people understand the risks of pool ownership, how to maintain a safer and cleaner pool, what safety equipment is appropriate, how to prevent pool and hot tub entrapment hazards, and how to respond to an emergency.

    More information on water safety is available at

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.