A new report from Safe Kids Worldwide finds more children and teens drown in open bodies of water than in swimming pools.
More than 1,000 young people died from drowning in 2016, and swimmers in rivers, lakes, ponds and quarries seem to be most at risk.
“Lakes and rivers, if you’ve ever been in one, they’re kind of murky. It makes it really difficult to see the bottom and the bottom can be hiding things like sudden drop-offs, logs, rocks, even weeds,” says Morag MacKay of Safe Kids Worldwide.
Along with decreased visibility, natural swimming holes can have unpredictable and strong currents, and experts say even experienced swimmers may struggle in the colder water of lakes and rivers.
“So while they’re swimming fine in a pool, if they’re trying to swim out in open water, they may tire much more quickly just because of the water temperature,” MacKay notes.
Parents can help by designating a “water watcher” to keep an eye on swimmers and keep weak swimmers in life jackets.
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