Drowning cases increase

Water Safety

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The number of children who have drowned in Mahoning County is up from last year.

Just recently, two children were rescued from the water, one from a swimming pool and the other at the Mosquito Lake spillway.

Water safety is a growing concern and one that is not taken lightly at the Firestone Pool in Columbiana. On any given hot, summer day, you can find anywhere from 500 to 800 people at the pool. There is always a lifeguard on duty, but pool manager Terry Shaffer said it’s not just the water they are keeping an eye on.

“I teach CPR, lifeguard training, AED, first aid, all of it,” said Shaffer. “I kind of know who is good and who is not, and who to hire and who not.”

In his 33 years as manager, Shaffer doesn’t recall any near-drowning experiences at the pool. Almost since the beginning, the staff has offered free swim lessons to the public. The lessons got very popular and now there is limited space and a charge.

“They learn the basics and strokes and holding their breath and blowing bubbles and all that stuff,” said Shaffer.

For children that can’t swim, parents need to keep a watchful eye. Stephany Vinci of Calcutta is never far from her 7-year-old daughter Paiten.

“We always watch as parents. You should always stand in the pool area with your young children,” Vinci said.

Vinci always puts floaties on her daughter with someone holding her. Akron Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Specialist Gia Ramsey said parents can’t rely on those devices alone.

“There are a lot of products on the market that a lot of children will wear that are alright for swimming and assisting a child to swim, but they are not life saving devices,” Ramsey said.

U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets, if worn properly, can flip over a small child if they end up face down in the water. It is recommended that all children on a boat wear a life jacket, which are required for children under 10.

And when it comes to swimming, there should be a “water watcher,” one adult per child.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.

Statistic from the CDC indicate those most at risk are males, children ages 1-4, and minorities. The fatal drowning rate of African American children ages 5 to 14 is almost three times that of white children in the same age range. This may be because of the lack of available swimming lessons at an early age, according to the CDC.

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