According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), among racial groups, African Americans have reported the most limited swimming ability. In fact, across all age groups, African Americans have a higher drowning rate than whites. Large disparities have been found between the drowning rate for African American and white children. The CDC reports that between 2005 and 2009 the fatal drowning rate of African American children ages 5 to 14 is over 3 times that of white children in the same age range. African American children 5 to 19 years old drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than white children. Shockingly, 11 to 12 year old African American children drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of white children.
How can you keep your kids safe? The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) “Pool Safely” program works to prevent drowning in pools, submersion injuries, and pool and spa injuries and deaths caused by becoming trapped in pool or spa drain. Here is a list of top 10 ways to stay safe in and around a pool or spa:
- Never leave a child unattended in or near a pool or spa and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water. Designate a Water Watcher to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone or be otherwise distracted. Adults can take turns being a Water Watcher.
- Teach children basic water safety tips.
- If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
- Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal standards, and, if you do not know, ask your pool service provider whether your covers are in compliance.
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
- Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly.
- Install a four-foot or taller fence around the perimeter of the pool and spa and use self-closing and self-latching gates; ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools.
- Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa.
- Have lifesaving equipment such as life rings, floats or a reaching pole available and easily accessible. 
Have a safe summer!
–Janell Mayo Duncan
COPYRIGHT©2014 by Living Well Black, Inc.