Water Safety 2021

July 3, 2021
water wave


A recent rescue serves as a reminder of what to watch for while on the water – and why you should be extra careful in the water at this time of year.
"What they did was very brave, and they are very heroic, but there is definitely a side of caution.”

Columbia, MO Fire Dept. Asst. Fire Chief Jerry Jenkins on the water rescue by Boy Scouts Joseph Diener (16) and Dominic Viet (15), who were riding their bikes to survey damages caused by a recent storm when they heard a woman screaming. They found her holding on to a basketball hoop in nearby floodwaters, so they jumped into the water and doggy-paddled her to safety. Jenkins praised the boys for being brave, but said that floodwater rescues are dangerous – even for first responders.

WHAT TO KNOW: Drownings

  • July is the deadliest month for drowning.
  • Drowning is the #1 cause of death in children ages 1 to 4 (other than birth defects) and a leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14.
  • For all ages, drownings are the #5 cause of preventable injury-related deaths.
  • 80% of drowning deaths are males.
  • Alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of drowning deaths.
  • Each year, there are approx. 4,000 fatal drownings and 8,000+ nonfatal drownings.

Water-Associated Disease Outbreaks

  • CDC study: From 2000 to 2014, there were 140 reported water-associated outbreaks linked to fresh / marine waters (lakes, rivers, oceans).
  • The majority of the outbreaks started during the summer months, with nearly 60% starting in July.
  • Outbreaks caused nearly 5,000 illnesses and two fatalities.


  • Limit alcohol intake or avoid it all together.
  • Take CPR lessons and enroll children in swim lessons.
  • Make sure weak swimmers, children, and boaters wear life jackets.
  • Closely supervise children when they are in or near water, and stay within an arm's length of children who are weak swimmers.
  • Minimize your risk of exposure to diseases by paying attention to advisory warnings and staying away from smelly or scummy waters.

Although young children are especially at risk when it comes to drowning, the rescue by local Boy Scouts is just one example of water rescues by youngsters that made recent headlines. Last week in Houston, Texas, a 10-year-old boy named Rickie August Jr. swam to the bottom of a pool to save a 5-year-old girl. He said he felt like "a real hero" and wants “to be a leader for other kids." His proud aunt said that his actions show "it doesn’t matter your size or your age … you can make a difference. You can save a life."

CDC: Drowning Prevention

NSC: Top 10 Preventable Injuries

Red Cross: Water Safety

NPR: You Could Save A Child From Drowning This Summer. Here's How

by Jenna Lee,