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Health Experts Say Swim Season Dangerous For Kids

Jun 14, 2016

Federal and state health experts are pushing swimming pool cleanliness and safety this summer, noting that many accidental deaths of American children are caused by drowning.

Jim Letizia reports.  

Health officials are telling parents that having their children wear floaties while swimming will not completely protect them from drowning. Cleveland Clinic physician Purva Grover is among them. 

"It's okay to use them, but making sure that we understand as parents, and they understand as children, as swimmers - that it does not make you invincible."

The USA Swimming Foundation says drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of five, and the second leading cause for kids under the age of 14. The foundation says ten people drown in the U.S. each day. Sarah Denny is with the  Division of Emergency Medicine at Children's Hospital in Columbus. She says children and adults should know the basics of swimming - even if they are not interested in the water. 

"They don't have to be the next Olympic swimmer, but we want to make sure that they're safer on the water.  so that if they are somewhere with friends or they're boating or whatnot, that they have those basic skills to keep themselves safe if they were to get into the water." 

Denny says parents should keep an eye on kids and have them swim with a friend if possible. She says the signs of drowning are not always obvious. 

"They're very quiet, there's not a lot of splashing around.... As a former lifeguard, there was a certain look I would see in kids eyes; I could tell this kid's in trouble.  Big eyes, and they're trying to stay up, but they are just slowly getting further underneath the water."  

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control says 12 percent of public pools and spas in the U.S. have been shut down this year for health and safety violations. 

"CDC found that one in eight routine inspections of our puiblic pools, hot tubs/spas and water playgrounds resulted in immediate closure a serious health or safety violation was identified.  The most common safety violation we found was inadequate saftey equipment.  So like, a reach pole or a rescue ring with rope not being available or not being in good repair.... [or] the pH wasn't right; it determines how well the chlorine kills germs.  And not having enough disinfectant or chlorine in the water."  

CDC spokesperson Michele Hlavsa says another problem is drains lacking covers, which can lead to swimmers being trapped. More information on healthy swimming can be found on the cdc's website: cdc.gov/healthyswimming.