By Sue Hubbard, M.D
Swim season is in full swing as the “dog days of summer” grip the country, accompanied by an unusually large wave of emergency room visits for swimming injuries. Maybe the good news is more people are swimming, and therefore the increase in injuries may be related to parents not playing close enough attention to their children in swimming pools, lakes and rivers.
One study reveals that approximately 1.6 million swimming injuries were reported in the U.S between 1990 and 2008 The annual rate of swimming injuries among children 7 years and older increased by 30 percent during the study period. Kids younger than 17 accounted for about 60 percent of swimming injuries. That data correlates to about one swimming injury every six minutes (those lifeguards must be tired).
For every 100,000 people who swam yearly, 18 injuries occurred among kids ages 7-17, and 9 injuries among people 17 and older, according to the study. About 87 percent of injuries occcurred in and around swimming pools, and 13 percent in natural bodies of water.
While most of the injuries were cuts, bruises and scrapes, others were more serious. Children younger than 7 were more likely to require hospitalization and there were more deaths in this younger age group, according to the study/
Over the July 4th weekend there were seven drownings reported my area. Two children died and several young adults. Parents need to be vigilant at all times when swimming with their children and should never be more than arms’ length from a young child in the water.
Additionally, alcohol and water don’t mix! Swimming and boating while drinking is as deadly as drinking and driving! Parents should never operate a boat while drinking. Several teens, as well as young adults, recently died due to drowning in our area after they’d been partying on boats and no one noticed that they’d gone overboard.
Lastly, always wear lifejackets while boating or participating in water sports. Life jackets save lives and may have prevented several deaths this summer.
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