Drowning is the sixth-most frequent cause of unintentional death in the state- making it a significant public health problem, state officials say. More people drown than die in fires or other outdoor-related accidents. More drown than die in machinery or gun accidents.
The New Haven Register reported that, between 2008 and 2016, an average of 29 people per year, or 1 per 100,000, drowned in natural bodies of water, swimming pools or bathtubs in Connecticut, according to Department of Public Health statistics. Year to year, the numbers fluctuate: 41 in 2013 vs. nine in 2015, for example. Of the 257 drowning deaths in that time frame, most are children under 5 and men between 20 and 35. The next most vulnerable group is people 75 to 84 years old, who drown at twice the average rate, DPH said.
And the situation is exacerbated by the cuts to state and local budgets that have resulted in fewer lifeguards.
Why talk about it now, at the end of summer? Because, now’s the time when we can take steps to prevent the problem next year. Across the state, town recreation programs, as well as local YMCAs, are enrolling children in swimming lessons - teaching them the vital skills that will help prevent a tragedy.
Granted, even good swimmers have succumbed to riptides and strong currents this summer, but, in most instances, water skills - and, for young children, parental vigilance - can save a life. And, of course, it’s fun.
That’s why we’re urging our readers to enroll their kids and grandkids in classes this week! Then, next summer, you can relax and enjoy the results!