Drowning is the number one killer of young children. US efforts to fix it lag behind.

Yadira Salcedo was born in Mexico to parents who did not know how to swim. As a child, she nearly drowned when she waded too deep into a backyard swimming pool.

Now a mom of two in Santa Ana, Calif., Ms. Salcedo is “breaking the cycle,” as she puts it, making sure Ezra, 3, and Ian, 1, never experience such horror. The family has qualified for Red Cross scholarships for a new program that teaches children who may not have other opportunities to learn to swim.

On a recent day, Ms. Salcedo and her children climbed together into the Salgado Community Center pool, using kickboards and bubbling with the instructor, Jozo, who uses a mixture of English and Spanish.

Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths are likely to rise this month, as every July, babies drown just feet from their parents without screaming, struggling, or splashing. A 4-year-old in a hotel pool in Texas, a 5-year-old in a California river, a 6-year-old in a Missouri lake and a 10-year-old in a public pool in Indiana have all drowned in the past. week.

However, despite calls from the United NationsThe United States is one of the only developed countries without a federal plan to address the crisis. Thirty years of progress in reducing drowning deaths in the country appears to have leveled off, and disparities in mortality among some ethnic groups have worsened.

“It’s hard to imagine a more preventable cause of death. No one would say, ‘Well, some people just drowned,'” said William Ramos, assistant professor at Indiana University-Bloomington School of Public Health and director of the school’s Aquarium Institute.

It’s time to dig deeper into the sad stats and answer the ‘why’ and ‘how’, he said.

said Dr. Sadeeqa A. Kennedy, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Boston Medical Center, who is studying The cyclical nature of injury and injustice.

“This is anthropology,” said Mr. Ramos. “Starting a new narrative around water is not an easy task.”

Recently published by the National Institutes of Health Call for research proposals To examine drowning prevention, writing that “little is known” about intervention strategies that work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it plans to conduct an in-depth analysis of infant drowning in several states To better understand the contributing factors.

But epidemiologists point to a host of factors that could make it increasingly difficult to bridge the gap, including shrinking entertainment department budgets, and Shortage of national rescuers and an age of distraction on the pool decks, where parents juggle child supervision with laptops and cell phones when they’re working from home.

Deborah Gerasek, A.D., said: Drowning researcher at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. More children are likely to drown in hurricane-induced floodwaters in Florida, fall through thin ice in Wisconsin or climb into forbidding reservoirs in Yosemite for relief from the rising temperatures. (Research shows that drowning rises with every degree on a thermometer.)

Despite the total deaths from drowning decreased by a third Since 1990, they have by 16.8 percent In 2020 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are still more than 4,000 of them in the United States annually, and about a quarter of all deaths are children. that Analysis by the Centers for Disease Control It shows that black children ages 5 to 9 are 2.6 times more likely to drown in swimming pools than white children, and children ages 10 to 14 are 3.6 times more likely to drown. Disparities also exist in most age groups for Asian and Pacific Islander children, Hispanic children, Native American and Alaska Native children.

Socioeconomic factors also play a role. A study of drownings in Harris County, Texas, for example, showed that it was nearly three times more likely for a child in a multi-family home than in a single-family dwelling to drown in multi-family pools—like the one in the home. Salcidos Apartment – Kant 28 times more likely than it is in single-family bathrooms.

Ms. Salcedo said she often saw children swimming in the pool at her apartment complex unsupervised, the gate propped up with a water bottle or shoe.

The leading theory to explain inequality dates back to the half-century of the proliferation of municipal blocks after World War II. When that gave way to suburban swimming clubs and middle-class backyard pools, historian Jeff Wiltsey writes about Assembly dateWhite children began learning to swim in private lessons, while children in minority families saw public swimming pools crumbling and water game budgets plummeting. Many facilities and educational programs never recovered.

Black adults in particular reported having negative experiences around water, with family tales of being banned from public beaches during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation and brutality during the integration of public swimming pools.

United nations Accuracy Issued in 2021 and World Health Assembly resolution This year, to accelerate action, he urged every member state to give priority to combating child drowning. nope the from The American Academy of Pediatrics has pleaded with the US government to catch up.

“Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa — they all have a plan. The message to Congress is: We need to fix this, and we can. But look at seat belts, fire safety, and smoking cessation. Legislation is what will move the needle.”

Officials can add water sports to the curriculum for gym classes or enforce four-sided fencing in backyards (since many victims are still Walk around the pools from the exposed side facing the house). Ms Girasek said she was keen to see the legislation because “we see very clearly that it works”.

After Virginia Graeme Baker, the 7-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker, was trapped by a hot tub suction and drowned, a federal law named in her honor required public pools and spas to be equipped with septic covers. meet certain criteria. He seemed to eliminate such deaths.

US National Water Safety Action Plan, Launched by a group of nonprofits last week, it is the country’s first-ever attempt to build a roadmap for tackling the crisis. His 99 recommendations for the next decade serve as a sobering guide through the country’s various gaps in research, financing, monitoring, and parental education, which have been amassed by serious advocacy groups on small budgets ill-equipped to fill on their own.

Connie Harvey, Director Water Centennial Campaign At the American Red Cross, she held a briefing on Capitol Hill recently along with other experts, she said, “to let our leaders know there is a plan — that there is a plan.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. and longtime advocate for preventing drowning, was the only member of Congress present at the meeting.

Meanwhile, some local governments have adopted their own interventions. This summer, Seattle workout a new initiative On the basis of a non-profit organization No more under, which connects hundreds of low-income foster children with swimming lessons. Broward County, Florida, which has some of the highest drowning rates in the state, offers free vouchers. Santa Anna plans to draw more than $800,000 from the cannabis public benefit fund this year to bring the aquatic program back into the field.

The city, with a population of nearly 80 percent Hispanic nestled among Orange County’s wealthier suburbs, has historically epitomized healthy racial and economic disparities. One of its public pools is 63 years old. But its Department of Parks and Recreation recently hired an aquatics supervisor and 36 new life guards—the supervisor had to teach them to swim first.

Under Santa Ana’s new program, Ms. Salcedo, a waitress, and her husband, a post office clerk, who live in a family of three generations, secured scholarships that lowered the cost of swimming lessons to $15 per child every two weeks. They plan to attend all summer.

Ezra, 3 years old, cried on the first day of lessons. Now he shares facts about hammerheads between strokes during the “Baby Shark” lyric. Ian, who is 1 year old, has not yet mastered walking on the floor. However, he was paddling behind an orange rubber duck, with his mother – now a good swimmer – keeping him afloat.

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