Adam Katchmarchi, executive director of the National
Drowning Prevention Alliance and assistant professor of
Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science at IUP, was recently interviewed by the New York Times. The article, “Children May Be At Higher Risk of Drowning This Summer,” was published May 22, 2020.
In the article, Katchmarchi cited statistics when stating, “People are always shocked to know that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children one to four.” (Drowning is also the second leading cause for ages five to nine.) “We spend so much time talking about car seat safety and fire safety and all these other things.”
Not only are pools the most common location where preschoolers drown, but 69 percent of the time a child under age five drowns in a pool, the child wasn’t expected to be there. Summer is high season for child drownings in pools and spas, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Nonfatal drowning injuries are even more common, sending an estimated 6,400 kids under age 15 to the emergency room in 2018. This year, with outings to the community pool, day camps, and pool parties still on hold, kids cooped up at home will be eager to get in the water as the weather warms. Experts worry that parents are stretched too thin to provide the required supervision, leading to an increase in child drownings this summer. As of mid-May, both Florida and Texas—the top two states for child drownings in pools and spas—are already seeing higher numbers than last year.
Kitchmarchi explained in the article, “You’re thinking, ‘Oh, it’s a kiddie pool. It’s only six inches of water.’ Well, if a kid’s flat, face down, and can’t get up, they are submerged underwater.” This is particularly true with babies and young toddlers, who have a harder time righting themselves because of their proportionally larger heads.
Perhaps the biggest myth about drowning is that it’s obvious; in fact, it’s usually silent, Katchmarchi said. His advice to parents: “If for any reason you cannot find your child, check the water first, including pools, any standing water, and bathrooms. Because if your child’s hiding in the closet, it’s not life or death. If they are face down in the pool, seconds count.”
The Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science is a diverse and interdisciplinary department offering nationally accredited programs of study, including teacher education, physical education and support, athletic training, exercise science, and sport administration. In addition to teaching and carrying an active research agenda, Katchmarchi is a licensed EMT and acquatics director, overseeing the operations of Lepley Pool.
College of Health and Human Services