Memorial Day, the annual kickoff to summer, is just around the corner and almost 100 percent of you will spend some time in, under or on top of that water over the next few months.There is no better reason for everyone to learn to swim. Unfortunately, we will also start seeing headlines about people drowning. Swimming is great sport, great exercise, great relaxation and great fun - if done properly and safely. But when done improperly or recklessly, this aquatic attraction can be fatal.
Here are the particular statistics you don't want to become part of:
* Drownings claim about 5,200 lives a year in this country - the fourth leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States - according to the National Safety Council.
* In 1988, the latest year for which information is available, there were an estimated 590 deaths in residential swimming pools, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports. Of those, 310 were children under age 5.
* In 1990, the latest year for which information is available, 865 people were reported killed in boating accidents, the U.S. Coast Guard reports. Of those, 784 had no life jacket on them when found. About 6,400 boating accidents were reported to the Coast Guard in 1990, but a Coast Guard spokesman said it was believed that figure only represented about 10 percent of the actual number of accidents that year.
* Every year, about 4,300 submersion injuries occur; in 1990, an estimated 2,350 children under age 5 were treated for such injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says. Some victims are permanently brain-damaged.
* Of about 7,800 spinal-cord injuries a year in this country, about 14 percent are sports-related, two-thirds the result of diving, the National Spinal Cord Injury Foundation says. The typical victim of a diving accident is a young male, ages 13 to 33, the National Safety Council says. Many diving injuries result in quadriplegia, paralysis or brain damage.
So no matter where you are, pool, boat or beach, supervise swimmers at all times. Parents are the first line of defense when caring for inexperienced swimmers. Stay tuned to our blog over the next couple of days - we will be posting a variety of articles with tips on how to keep your loved ones safe around water, no matter where you are.