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July 23, 2013

July 23, 2013

For more information,
Contact: Amanda Shell
Moxley Carmichael
(865) 544-0088


As the weather heats up in Knoxville, a splash in the pool or a day at the lake can be a welcome cool down. Without supervision, however, swimming can also be a dangerous activity for children. Rural/Metro urges families to recognize the signs of drowning and practice safe swimming during water sports and activities.

“Parents need to be constantly alert, because a child can slip under the water in a matter of seconds,” said Dennis Rowe, market general manager for Rural/Metro. “Movies and television dramatizations have given us an unrealistic view of what drowning really looks like. They often portray victims waving their arms, thrashing or calling for help. In a real drowning situation, a victim can slip quickly and quietly under the water before anyone recognizes the danger.”

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children 15 and younger. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 750 children will drown within the next year, and about 375 of them will drown within 25 yards of a parent or adult. In 10 percent of those drownings, the adult will notice them, but not realize the serious warning signs until it is too late.

Drowning victims often cannot get their mouths above the water long enough to inhale to call for help. Their limbs will be busy under the surface pushing down on the water, trying to bring their mouths above the surface to breathe. Their bodies will be upright in the water with no evidence of a kick or struggle. These are signs of something called Instinctive Drowning Response.

“Once a child is in Instinctive Drowning Response, a rescuer may have as little as 20 to 60 seconds to save a child before he or she slips beneath the surface,” said Rowe. “If someone is waving and calling for help, however, the situation is still grave. This is a sign of aquatic distress, which can quickly escalate to Instinctive Drowning Response.”

Signs of Instinctive Drowning Response may include mouth submerged or head tilted back with mouth open; eyes closed or glassy, unable to focus; hair over forehead or eyes; vertical position in water; hyperventilating or gasping; or appearing to be climbing an invisible ladder.

To prevent drowning, safety measures like fences and flotation devices are helpful, but more measures must be taken to ensure children’s safety. Children should always be supervised by a CPR-certified adult near the water. When supervising a child in the water, remove all distractions, stay alert and know basic CPR.

Rural/Metro provides these tips for safe swimming:

• Always actively supervise your children and have a phone nearby to call for help in case of emergency. Teach children to never swim alone.
• Make sure your pool has a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Cover and lock pools and hot tubs when not in use.
• Get certified in CPR. Find out who offers classes in your area and get trained.
• Enroll your children in swim lessons. Children from non-swimming households are eight times more likely to be at risk of drowning.
• Wear a life jacket and have your child wear a life jacket when boating or on the dock. Eighty-four percent of fatal boating accident victims were not wearing a life jacket.
• Avoid entirely or moderate your alcohol consumption when boating.
• Immediately exit the water when the weather turns for the worse, especially when you hear thunder or see lightning.
• Don’t rely on flotation devices as a substitute for supervision or swim lessons.
• Don’t dive into water without checking the depth of the pool or lake. Rural/Metro advises “feet first, first time” to help prevent spinal cord and brain injuries.
• Be aware of your limitations. Never swim when tired or immediately after eating.

Keeping these safety tips in mind and knowing the real signs of drowning before making a splash in the pool, taking the boat out on the lake or jumping in the ocean will keep families safe this summer.

About Rural/Metro

Rural/Metro of Tennessee is the largest emergency service provider in East Tennessee, with a combined work force of more than 800 firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, telecommunicators and other support personnel. Rural/Metro Ambulance Service is the only accredited provider in the state, with contracts for 911 services in Knox, Blount, Loudon, Franklin and Polk counties.