May is Childhood Drowning Prevention Month in Illinois and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is urging all parents and caregivers to keep a constant eye on children when they're near water in order to help prevent drowning.
Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of one and four in the U.S. In Illinois, 21 children died from drowning last year: ten in pools, six in lakes, two in ponds, two in rivers, and one in a bathtub.
An infant or toddler can drown in just one inch of water in as little as 20 seconds. Any place in which water collects can be dangerous, like bathtubs, toilets, baby pools, decorative ponds, ditches, streams, and septic tanks. Five-gallon buckets are a special risk to toddlers, who have undeveloped upper-body muscles. Toddlers can fall headfirst into the buckets and drown, even if there is just one inch of water inside.
For every child that drowns, an additional five are victims of near-drowning. Near-drowning can result in long-term brain damage, including memory loss, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functions resulting in a vegetative state.
"All childhood drowning is preventable," Prevent Child Abuse Illinois Executive Director Roy Harley said. "Adults are responsible for the safety and well being of their children, they must stay alert at all times when children are near water."
For more information on water safety, visit dcfs.illinois.gov.
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