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Alarming Trend as US Drowning Death Rates Surge, Reversing Decades of Progress in Water Safety

Just in time for the Memorial Day weekend kickoff to summer, a new report finds that accidental drowning rates in the U.S. have reversed over two decades of decline, with certain groups seeing dramatic increases since the start of the pandemic. With more outdoor activities resuming and many Americans lacking basic swimming skills, experts warn more can be done to curb this preventable public issue.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4,000 Americans die each year due to accidental drownings. This number had remained mostly steady from 2011 until 2019. However, in the last few years that figure has risen by about 10%, adding 500 to 600 additional deaths annually.

Young children under age 5 have been hit especially hard, with drowning rates in this group spiking nearly 30% from pre-pandemic levels. Black and Hispanic Americans have also seen disproportionate jumps compared to other demographics. The rises coincide with disruptions to swimming lessons and public pool access during COVID-19, leaving some more vulnerable in the water.

A new CDC survey highlights the depth of the problem, with around 40 million U.S. adults admitting they don't know how to swim. Over half of adults have never had formal swim instruction. These deficits are particularly acute among Black and Hispanic populations.

Experts stress early and affordable swimming lessons can save lives. Low-cost community programs and making pools more accessible aim to remedy inequities. However, vigilance is still needed, as distracted supervision and alcohol remain common drowning risk factors.
Simple barriers like pool fencing and life jackets for open water also make a difference.

As summer kicks off another busy season near pools and shorelines, officials hope raising swimming skills and safety awareness can help reverse the recent rise in drowning deaths and fulfill every family's right to enjoy the water safely.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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