NDPA Provides Essential Water Safety Guidance

In response to national and local reports of child drowning incidents since the start of 2024, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) reminds parents, pediatricians and the public at large of the risk of drowning for children and the importance of practicing water safety year-round, while also warning of common misperceptions. 

NDPA’s cautionary message comes as Florida reports nine fatal drownings thus far in 2024 (according to the Department of Children and Families); Arizona experiences a spike in child drownings with eight reports of fatal or non-fatal drownings since December 2023 (including three child drownings in February); and the tragic news of lifestyle influencer Laura Merritt Walker’s (IG @MerritandStyle) three-year-old son lost due to an accidental drowning last month in Texas.

“The loss of a child due to drowning is profoundly heartbreaking and incomprehensible for parents and families,” said Adam Katchmarchi, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, NDPA. “We share the pain of each family impacted and remain steadfast in our mission to help save lives through water safety advocacy and education because these tragic drownings can be prevented.” 

The CDC ranks drowning as the leading cause of death among children ages 1-4. According to NDPA, which works to prevent childhood drowning through awareness and advocacy, the first step is dispelling four common drowning myths:

Myth #1: If a child is in distress in the water, they will be heard and there will be time to save them.

Fact: Drowning incidents happen in seconds and are often silent.

Myth #2: Watching a child during swim-time ensures their safety.

Fact: The majority (close to 70%) of drowning incidents among young children occur during non-swim times when a little one finds their way to a pool or open water undetected.

Myth #3: Having an adult present is all that is needed to keep children safe.

Fact: While supervision is important, no one strategy is sufficient when it comes to water safety and drowning prevention. Instead, NDPA advocates the Five Layers of Protection which includes barriers and alarms, water competency, supervision (close, constant, and capable), life jackets, and emergency preparedness. 

Myth #4: “It Can’t Happen to Me.”

Fact: So long as there is any water source accessible to a child, whether it is a pool, lake, beach, or bathtub, the risk of drowning is real and present. 

Added Katchmarchi, “In addition to providing resources and information on water safety, NDPA also works with bereaved families looking to turn their tragedy into action, whether via advocacy or drowning prevention awareness. This is accomplished through our affiliation with Families United to Prevent Drowning, a group of more than 100 families and foundations working together in the fight to save lives.”