Water Safety

The number of child deaths from drowning went up last year in Harris County. A ten-year study of childhood drownings shows most result from inadequate adult supervision. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson has more.

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The hot season in Houston is upon us, and as the weather warms up more people will spend more time out by the pool. Greater Houston Pool Management is working with the Red Cross and several other organizations to provide additional training and new technologies to pool staff and lifeguards around the city. Dan McInnis with Greater Houston Pool Management says there are literally millions of bodies of water in the Houston area that children have access to.

"My goodness, with all the apartment complexes, homeowners' associations, public and private facilities, backyard pools, bodies of water also that we don't even think about when we're talking about drownings and preventative measures, the bathroom, buckets of water from people mopping, the little creeks and the little man-made ponds that all the homeowners' associations like for the, the visual."

Tom Griffiths is the director of aquatics at Penn State University and holds a Phd. in education. He says many factors contribute to Houston's high rate of drowning deaths.

"Houston is one of the hotbeds for drowning in the country and there's a lot of reasons for that and of course the primary reason is it's hazy, hot and humid most of the summer and you have a much longer summer season than most people. Also I know there's an awful lot of residential pools, apartment complex pools, and again some of these are not guarded and many people are out and working when their children are playing at poolside."

It can take as little as 90 seconds for a child to drown. Griffiths says adults get too comfortable around the pool and forget to be diligent. He calls it passive supervision and says it's what leads to most drowning deaths.

"We have to break this mindset with parents that they can supervise their children around the water in their home and in their yards. And we have to get away from passive supervision at waterfront facilities and swimming pools and teach parents to actively watch their children. I like to say parents if you're more than an arms-length away, you're too far."

Something as simple as answering the phone or stepping inside to grab a drink or towel can create enough unsupervised time for a child to drown. A free event called April Pools Day is open to the public tomorrow from 10am until 4pm at the Post Oak YMCA. Parents can learn more about pool and water safety. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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