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Drowning Deaths Down Overall, But Still a Problem

Rates increased for adults 45 to 84; kids 4 and under and adults 85 and older at highest risk

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Swimming near a lifeguard reduces the risk of drowning, said B. Chris Brewster, president of the U.S. Lifesaving Association (USLA). "USLA statistics consistently indicated that the chance of drowning death at a beach protected by lifeguards is one in 18 million beach visits," he said.

Xu added that parents and caregivers should "keep an eye on the kids," whether indoors or outdoors and near bodies of water.

Gill agreed. "Parents must maintain constant supervision over children in aquatic settings," he said. Parents who aren't qualified to protect their children or themselves should be sure to swim only when qualified lifeguards are present, Gill added.

The American Red Cross has additional tips for safe swimming:

  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket if you are inexperienced as a swimmer, but don't rely on the jackets alone.
  • Enroll in learn-to-swim courses.
  • Secure a home pool with appropriate barriers.
  • If a child turns up missing, check water sources first, since seconds count.
  • Consider home pool safety and water safety classes.

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