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Drowning in Arkansas: What You Don't Know: Review Teams Find State's Children at Higher Risk

06.29.2015

LITTLE ROCK, AR. (June 29, 2015) – Children in Arkansas are at an increased risk for drowning, according to research conducted by the Arkansas Infant and Child Death Review Program at Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH). Arkansas ranks 7th in the U.S. for drowning-related deaths among children under 17, and the state's drowning rate is 60 percent higher than the national average.

Since 2010, the Arkansas Infant and Child Death Review Program has reviewed cases of unexpected deaths of children ages birth to 17. Local review teams found that of all the drowning cases reviewed, over 5 percent involved children between the ages of 1 and 4 who drowned in either a bathtub or bucket of water.

As summer sets in, families need to be even more vigilant with so many cool-down activities involving water play. Toddlers and pre-schoolers can drown in even an inch of water — the amount often left in a wading pool or bucket.

When there are young children in the home, keep bathroom doors closed at all times, and always stay with kids when they are in the bath, pool or other bodies of water.

Older children were more likely to drown in open bodies of water or swimming pools. The Arkansas review teams found most recreational drownings occurred among young people ages 10 to 17.

"Many pre-teens and teens incorrectly feel that if they know how to swim, there is no danger of drowning," said Dr. Pamela Tabor, director of the Arkansas Infant and Child Death Review Program at ACH. "But in reality, water recreation can be very dangerous if the proper precautions aren't taken."


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), supervision is the key to water safety. Lifejacket use is important for everyone but especially for children who don't know how to swim.

Life jackets are also essential for anyone on open bodies of water like rivers and lakes, or when engaging in water sports activities like boating, skiing or riding personal watercrafts. It's important for pre-teens, teens and adults to never swim alone, to swim and boat sober and to swim only in areas designated for swimming.

The Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children's Hospital can provide families, schools, communities and other local organizations with information about drowning prevention strategies.

You can find fact sheets and other injury prevention resources by visiting the Injury Prevention Center's website.

Arkansas Children's Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children from birth to age 21. Over the past century, ACH has grown to span 29 city blocks and house 370 beds, a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,000 employees. The private, nonprofit healthcare facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research - all dedicated to fulfilling our mission of championing children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow. For more info, visit archildrens.org.

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