The number of toddler drownings is on the rise.
Earlier this month, Sen. Charles Schumer issued a report on that fact and called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the issue.
“This new report takes a look at the latest data we have on drownings amongst toddlers and finds that when it comes to fatal drownings, numbers have climbed — and toddler boys are at dramatically greater risk for death,” Schumer said in a media release. “That is why, amidst the most popular months for swimming and the dog days of summer that find more and more kids in and around pools and other bodies of water, we must sound the alarm on this trend and demand new action from the federal government.”
Three children drown every day in the United States, according to the CDC. It is the leading cause of death for children younger than 5.
The majority of these deaths are among males. In 2016, 306 boys younger than 5 died from accidental drownings, while 157 girls in that age group did. In two years, the total number of deaths of toddlers because of unintentional drowning jumped from 417 to 463.
“The CDC should be commended for keeping these detailed records, but what good is the data unless we use it to save lives?” Schumer said in the release. “So, today, I am urging the CDC to use my report to investigate the rising trend of toddler drownings and then develop a special outreach campaign to reach the parents of children who are in the age range of 0-4 years.”
Sadly, just days after Schumer called attention to these troubling statistics, a local boy became one.
Three-year-old Andrew J. Durkin of Gilboa was attending a family gathering on July 22 at his family’s seasonal residence near Goodyear Lake in Milford when he wandered off.
He was reported missing a little before 3 p.m. He was dressed the same as his identical twin brother, State Police said. The boy was found about an hour and a half later by the State Police Underwater Recovery Team off a dock of the family’s seasonal residence on Bob Wilson Road, according to State Police Troop C Capt. Scott Heggelke.
Resuscitation was attempted and the boy was later pronounced dead at A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta.
We can’t imagine the pain the family must be going through. It is a parent’s worst nightmare to lose a child. But who, as a parent, hasn’t lost sight of his or her child, even for a moment?
Nothing can be done to bring this child back to his family. But we can hope it brings attention to the dangers.
The CDC does offer tips to help prevent drowning, but many are geared toward adults in planned water settings.
But the first suggestion can help at all ages and in all situations: Take swimming lessons. Taking part in in formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning among toddlers ages 1 to 4, the CDC says.
Lifejackets and barriers to allow toddlers to enter the water are great when there is a planned water outing or a pool, but neither of these could have worked in our local boy’s death.
There is no easy answer on how to prevent another tragedy like this one.
It can’t hurt for the CDC to look into the rise in accidental drownings to see if there is a common cause, especially on why boys are disproportionately represented in the statics.
We do strongly support Schumer’s idea for the CDC to collaborate with state and local health departments to develop an education and prevention campaign on toddler drownings.