Governor Branstad will sign a proclamation June 16 declaring June 15 through 21 as Drowning Prevention Week. In 2012, the most recent year for data, there were 43 drowning deaths in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) supports Drowning Prevention Week and encourages Iowans to take three steps toward water safety:
1) Learn - All parents and caregivers are encouraged to learn adult and infant CPR. Immediate resuscitation at the site of an incident before the arrival of emergency medical services is associated with a significantly better outcome for children involved in a water injury.
2) Provide - IDPH recommends homeowners with pools or spas install fencing or barriers to prevent young children from gaining access to the water without supervision. To be effective, barriers should:
- Be at least 48 inches tall.
- Have no openings that would allow passage of a 4-inch sphere.
- Be of a non-climbable design.
- Have self-closing, self-latching, lockable gates.
3) Know - All parents and caregivers should know how to swim and should teach their children to swim as well.
In addition, to keep their homes safe, parents and caregivers of young children should provide locks on toilets and never leave young children unattended in the bath. It’s also important to always empty wading pools, ice chests and buckets immediately after use.
To help encourage learning to swim, IDPH is partnering with Safe Kids and the Altoona Aquatics Center for the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson on June 20. Similar events will be taking place across the nation, including additional locations in Iowa. To see a map of Iowa locations for the event, visit www.worldslargestswimminglesson.org/location/.