CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A study conducted by QuoteWizard, a subsidiary of LendingTree, shows more than 50 people have drowned in North Carolina pools in the last three years and nearly half of them were children.
As summer heatwaves continue, QuoteWizard looked at pool fatality data going back to 2018. The study found that North Carolina has the 8th highest number of pool drownings.
Key findings for North Carolina:
- 53 people have drowned in pools since 2018
- 22 pool fatalities were children under the age of 5
The study also showed that warm-weather states in the south and southwest have both the highest numbers of drownings and the highest drowning rates. Florida, California and Texas have each had more than 225 pool drownings in the last three years alone. Smaller states like Arizona, Louisiana and Georgia have higher rates of pool fatalities.
Nationwide, 40% of pool-related drownings involve a child under the age of five. However, in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arkansas, that number is closer to 60%. Most pool-related drownings happen in the summer, with 65% of all pool drownings happening in June, July and August.
According to the data, around 50% of non-fatal drowning injuries involving a child happened at a residential pool. However, 25% happened at a public pool and 25% happened at an unknown location.
"Because these are mainly residential pools, there isn't a lifeguard in that area," Nick VinZant, senior research analyst for QuoteWizard, said. "There is not someone that is specifically designated to watch over the pool."
VinZant said an adult should be assigned to watch the water at all times to make sure everyone stays safe.
“It just happens so quickly," VinZant said. "Even if they have a little bit of a swimming ability, it just can be in an instant, and it will change your life forever.”
Pool safety tips for homeowners
Homeowners and fellow adult guests can take an active role in preventing drowning-related injuries during the summer months. Aside from always keeping an eye out, the following tips are great action items to have top of mind while children are playing in the pool.
- Designate one person to watch each child. If everyone is watching everyone, no one is watching anyone
- Install water barriers around pools and spas (hot tubs)
- If a child is missing, check the water first
- Have a list of the rules and safety instructions and enforce them at all times with all guests
- Know basic water rescue skills like first aid and CPR
- Floaties do not prevent drownings
- Keep the pool visible at all times. Make sure you can see the bottom and remove toys from the pool when not being used
Swim lessons in demand this summer following pandemic
Swim lessons are popular this summer as classes fill up at the YMCA of Greater Charlotte.
“It has been at a peak high, no doubt," Ame Guy, association director of aquatics for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, said. "We are on a waitlist here at the YMCA mainly all summer.”
Guy said she believes swimming is an essential skill for all children to learn, and it's one that could save their life.
"It should be a base," Guy said. "You learn to read. You learn to write. You learn to swim. That's where we should be to lower the number of drownings."
Some children may not have had the opportunity to jump in the pool and receive lessons in the last couple of years due to the pandemic, Guy added.
“We are typically in 30-plus apartment complexes teaching children to swim who would not have access to come to our pools," Guy said. "They might be in apartment complex pools, you know, in their backyard. Again, for the third summer in a row because of COVID, we couldn’t do that.”
Guy said the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, like many other spaces with pools or water attractions, is still facing a shortage of lifeguards and swim instructors.
Especially this summer, she encourages adults to designate someone to watch the water at all times when kids are around and take the proper precautions before kids jump in.
"Remain within an arm's reach of those non-swimmers and have U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejackets on those swimmers at all times before you get to your pools, your lakes, your waterfronts, whatever you're doing, have those kids lifejacketed," Guy added.
The YMCA of Greater Charlotte lists all job opportunities, including lifeguard and swim instructor positions, on its website.
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