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Red Cross Launch to Cut Drowning Rate in Atlanta

National Survey Finds 61% of Children, Can’t Perform Basic Swim Safety Skills

ATLANTA- Tuesday, May 24, 2016- Every day, an average of 10 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning – 1 in 5 of them are children 14 or younger, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and fifth for people of all ages.

To mark its 100 years of swimming safety education and to reduce drowning deaths, the American Red Cross launched a multi-year Centennial Campaign in 2014 and will partner with the City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation this summer to make swimming lessons available to more children through their Camp Best Friends program. 

Based on the incidence of drownings, Atlanta is one of 50 cities across 19 states selected for a Red Cross Centennial Campaign partnership. The goals of the Campaign are to reach 50,000 more people nationwide with water safety training, help develop more lifeguards and instructors from the community, promote CPR training for parents and increase overall awareness of the need to learn how to swim.

This joint effort to reduce drowning death comes at a time when a national survey shows that most children and teens cannot perform basic swimming safety skills. The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, found that nearly all parents (94 percent) expect that their children will engage in some sort of water activity this summer. However, nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of these parents report that their child cannot demonstrate all five basic skills that could save their lives in the water.

These critical water safety skills, also known as “water competency,” are the ability to: Step or jump into the water over your head; Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute; Turn around in a full circle and find an exit; Swim 25 yards to the exit; and Exit from the water.  If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross April 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,024 American adults, including 201 parents of children aged 4-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education.  The margin of error for the total sample of 1,024 adults is ±3.1percent; the margin of error for the sample of 201 parents is ±6.9 percent.

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.