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Boy with goggles swims underwater in the deep end of a pool.

Drowning: The Silent Killer That Strikes in Seconds

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas offers essential water safety tips

Drowning, dubbed “the silent killer,” strikes without warning. There often are no splashes, no cries for help, just a deadly silence. In a matter of seconds, lives are lost. 

With summer approaching, health care providers have a crucial role in educating families about the urgency of water safety. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) encourages families to make a splash while prioritizing safety through comprehensive guidelines.

“Summer is the perfect time to create cherished memories, and water play can be an incredible source of joy,” said Dr. Mark Chassay, chief medical officer for BCBSTX. “By following a few simple precautions and fostering a culture of vigilance, we can transform water activities into safe and enjoyable experiences for everyone.”

There are about 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings, an average of 11 drowning deaths per day, in the United States, making it a leading cause of death, especially among children. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing and yelling featured in TV dramas are rarely seen in real life. Children may be hyperventilating, their lungs deprived of air, rendering them unable to scream for help. 

Unless the victim is rescued from the water, they have anywhere from 20-60 seconds before full submersion occurs, turning into a hazardous and life-threatening situation that no parent ever wants to face.

To safeguard young children, especially infants and preschoolers, these are important measures to follow:

  • Designate a water guardian: Amid the laughter and excitement, assign a responsible adult as a designated water guardian, even if lifeguards are present. This dedicated individual will actively supervise the children, ensuring their safety at all times.
  • Within arm’s reach: Maintaining proximity is critical for preschool-age children. Ensure they are always within arm’s reach during water activities to provide immediate assistance and prevent accidents.
  • Keep distractions at bay: It’s essential to supervise children around water fully. Avoid distractions like reading, playing cards, talking on the phone or mowing the lawn. Even with lifeguards present, complete focus on the children’s safety is crucial.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Refrain from drinking while supervising children, as it can impair judgment and reaction time.
  • Teach permission-seeking behavior: Educate children about the importance of seeking permission from a responsible adult before entering or approaching any water source.

Dr. Chassay believes that learning basic water safety and swimming skills will ensure everyone in the family is equipped with essential knowledge.

“Our goal is to empower families with the knowledge and resources needed to enjoy water activities safely while protecting their loved ones,” he said.

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association