Statistics show drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths among children under age four. Alabama has a higher-than-average drowning rate, especially in Mobile, where the rate of drowning is more than twice the national average. Nationally, drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14, and children younger than five have the highest risk of all.
Every year, thousands of children under age 14 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for drowning-related incidents. Just knowing how to swim isn't enough – children are vulnerable to water-related hazards. “Unfortunately, children have the highest drowning rates in the country that typically occur in home swimming pools,” said Alicia Anger, Director of Communications and Marketing Alabama Region-American Red Cross. “Drowning is different from the way it is portrayed in television and movies. It only takes twenty to sixty seconds for a person to sink below the water and this is why water safety preparedness and prevention for children is beneficial.”
These statistics have prompted the Alabama Region of the American Red Cross to issue water safety tips and to urge teachers and parents to promote water safety among students through the WHALE Tales program. The American Red Cross, Water Habits Are Learned Early, (WHALE) Tales program, provides easy-to-follow information to help children learn safe behavior in, on and around the water. Taught in a classroom session, WHALE Tales makes water safety fun and easy to learn. The Alabama Region-American Red Cross provides WHALE Tales classes across the state with upcoming events for third to fifth graders in Birmingham, Talladega and Anniston.
WHALE Tales courses are taught by trained volunteers. These volunteers present the interactive youth aquatics curriculum to several children each summer. Students are taught basics such as the importance of swimming with a buddy in a supervised area, the reasons behind water safety rules, choosing safe places to swim and dive, safe ways to rescue swimmer in trouble and the importance of wearing a life jacket.
For more information about bringing WHALE Tales to a school or organization in the community, please contact the local Alabama Region-American Red Cross.
The Red Cross Swim App is available. Download the app for free in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store for Android or Amazon Kindle Store by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps. The Swim App is not a substitute for learning how to swim. Parents can contact their local pool, aquatic facility or park and recreation department and ask for Red Cross swim lessons. Additional water safety tips are available at redcross.org/watersafety.
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 redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross, @alabamaredcross
How to donate blood
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.