The American Red Cross is launching a new national campaign to reduce the drowning rate by 50 percent in 50 cities over the next three to five years.
This year marks 100 years of swimming safety education for the Red Cross.
As part of this campaign, the Red Cross plans to teach 50,000 more people in these cities how to swim and is urging people across the country
to make sure that:
They and their families can swim.
They know basic water safety to help them make good choices around the water.
They know how to respond in an emergency.
A new national survey shows that people believe they are better swimmers than they actually are.
While most Americans say they can swim, only
about half of them can perform basic swimming skills.
The national survey conducted for the Red Cross found that while 80 percent of Americans said they could swim, only 56 percent of the self-described swimmers can perform all five of the basic skills for swimming ability.
These critical water safety skills, also known as "water competency," are:
Step or jump into the water over your head.
Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute.
Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
Swim 25 yards to the exit.
Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.
Overall, more than half of all Americans (54 percent) can't swim or don't have all of the basic swimming skills.
One in three (33 percent) African Americans reports that they can perform all five basic swimming skills, compared to 51 percent of whites.
The survey showed that 84 percent of whites and 69 percent of African Americans say they can swim.
Just four in ten parents of children ages 4-17 report that their child can perform all five basic swimming skills, yet more than nine in 10 (92 percent) say that their child is likely to participate in water activities this summer.
Men are significantly more likely than women to report that they have all five basic swimming skills (57 percent for men compared to 36 percent of women).
Nearly half of Americans report that they have had an experience where they were afraid they might drown.
The Red Cross survey showed that 46 percent of Americans said they had an experience in the water where they were afraid they might drown.
One in five (19 percent) said they knew someone who had drowned, and 20 percent knew someone who nearly drowned.
Every day, an average of 10 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning - with 20 percent of them children 14 or younger, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The national drowning rate due to unintentional drowning is 1.2 deaths for every 100,000 people.
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and sixth for people of all ages.
Among children between the ages of one and four, drowning is responsible for more deaths than any other cause except birth defects.
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.
For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
The new Red Cross drowning prevention campaign begins as summer gets underway and eight out of 10 Americans are planning water activities such as going to the beach, pool, water park, or boating or fishing this summer.
A third (32 percent) of all Americans plan to swim at a place this summer without a lifeguard.
The Red Cross campaign seeks to cut the drowning rate in half in 50 cities in 19 states, but people across the country can take steps now to become competent swimmers and make sure their children learn to swim.
We're asking every family to make sure that both adults and children can swim and that parents make water safety a priority this summer.
The Red Cross survey found that only two percent of adults plan to take swimming lessons this summer, and about one in five children ages 4-17 (20 percent) are likely to take swimming lessons this summer.
The 50 cities in the Red Cross drowning prevention campaign have high numbers of drowning deaths or high drowning rates. The campaign will reach 19 states across the country, including Florida, Louisiana, California, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Maryland and New York. The Red Cross campaign will start in 10 cities this year and expand to all 50 cities in the years ahead during the campaign rollout.
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