West Valley Medical Center officials remind parents about water safety

Posted at 10:33 PM, May 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 18:27:21-04

Memorial day is the unofficial start of summer, but it also comes with a warning for parents.

Canals are part of the Treasure Valley landscape, and according to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of death for children one to four years old in the United States.

Here in Idaho, Dr. Justin Sempsrott with West Valley Meidical Center says we are no different: the most affected age group for drowning in Idaho is one to four years old.

He says children especially under the age of five need undivided adult supervision and kids should be at arms length

"If there's access to a canal or a park where your visiting then you should have that same level of vigilance as if they were at a swimming pool."

He says uninterrupted attention means no texting, social media, reading, or phone calls.

"Drowning is silent and it only takes a kid about fifteen seconds before they slip under the water which really is just a quick going to answer the door, going to move the laundry or those momentary lapses."

Dr. Sempsrott says in the younger age group, some of the most dangerous places are back yard pools and bathtubs.

For high school and college age, he says they see a lot of boating related drowning deaths particularly from not wearing a life jacket.

"Even for strong competent swimmers, water temperature, currents and long time in the water can affect your ability to swim."

He says there are a lot of misguided information on non fatal drowning.

"Non fatal drowning is far more common than fatal drowning. For every drowning death, there's five more people that drown and seek care from an emergency department."

Dr. Sempsrott says if you're worried about a family member or friend.

"Always bring them to the doctor, bring them to the emergency department for evaluation."

The Nampa and Meridian Irrigation district has launched its Summer Safety Campaign as a reminder that canals are not recreation areas. Walking or playing on canal banks could land you a ticket.