Doctor’s important message to prevent drownings: you’re never too old for swim lessons

MADISON, Wis. — With several drownings in southern Wisconsin in recent weeks, doctors hope tragedy serves as an important reminder for all of us about water safety.

Monday was National Drowning Prevention Day. Small children are the most vulnerable when it comes to drownings, but adults are certainly at risk, too.

A big factor in adult drownings is alcohol. Officials at SSM Health say about 70 percent of adults who drown had been drinking.

“I always, always recommend if you’re around large bodies of water, especially if you don’t have a strong swimming background, always wearing your lifejacket or life vest,” Dr. Christopher Taylor of SSM Health said. “Pool floaties, intertubes, things like that aren’t meant to substitute for life jackets.”

If you see someone in trouble in the water, you should alert a lifeguard right away. If there isn’t one around and you can help get the person out, doctors suggest clearing the person’s airway with 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths.

You’re also never too old for swimming lessons, either — doctors say you should make sure you and the children you’re with should know at least some of the basics to stay safe in the water.

“Getting kids into swim lessons, and if you’re an adult who doesn’t know how to swim as well, getting into swim classes can absolutely be crucial for getting comfortable with water and decreasing the risk of drowning,” Dr. Taylor said.