Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer, and many families celebrate with barbecues and pool parties. This Labor Day weekend, DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) urges residents to remain vigilant and protect young children and swimmers of all ages from water hazards when in or around water by following simple water safety steps.
Unfortunately, drowning continues to be the leading cause of unintentional death for children under the age of five and the third leading cause for children ages 5-14 years. According to news media reports, 10 Illinois children aged seventeen years and younger have drowned in pools or open water since March 2021. The majority, about 80 percent, of these drownings were among boys, and most incidents occurred in open water bodies, including retention ponds, rivers, and lakes. Three pool-related fatalities occurred among young children aged five or under with reports of these young children exiting homes through a door and accessing a backyard pool. Additionally, three adult caregivers, including two fathers fatally drowned this year while rescuing children who were struggling to swim in open water.
Drownings can happen quickly and silently; however, they are preventable by following a few simple steps. First, children should be taught survival swimming skills. Infant, child, adult, group, and adapted swim lessons are offered at indoor pools year-round. Further, swim lesson scholarships are available throughout the region. Children of all ages must be taught not to enter the water unless a focused adult ‘Water Watcher’ is within arm’s reach. Second, make sure the pools and hot tubs you use have compliant suction outlet drain covers. Swimmers should keep their bodies, fingers and toes, hair, and straps away from suction outlets in pools and hot tubs. Third, prevent children from accessing the water by installing door alarms, pool motion sensors, and four to five-foot fencing around all four sides of swimming pools and spas. These barriers are especially important if a home’s back door opens to a pool or hot tub.
Together, we can prevent child drowning in our region - all year long. Visit dupagehealth.org for more information.