Play it safe around water this Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer swimming season. This weekend, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey reminds families to play it safe around water and take time to talk to your kids about water safety.

“On a hot day, nothing beats a splash in the pool or visit to one of our many beaches in North Carolina. But it’s important to stay safe around the water and know the signs of drowning,” said Commissioner Causey, who also serves as Chair of Safe Kids N.C. “Drownings can happen in a matter of seconds. We want parents and caregivers to keep both eyes on their children to avoid potential tragedies in the water.”


According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14. It is the leading cause of unintentional death in children under the age of four.

The North Carolina beaches will be crowded this weekend. Remember to pay attention to the warning flags at the beach that indicate the possibility of rip currents. A rip current’s force is strong enough to pull even the strongest swimmer out to sea. If caught in a rip current, stay calm, don’t fight the current, escape the current by swimming in a direction parallel to the shoreline. If at any time you are unable to reach the shore, draw attention to yourself and call for help.

Most people believe a drowning person involves flailing arms or frantic calls for help, but that scene is often incorrect. Drowning can happen quietly when a helpless person is unable to take in a breath or call for help. The CDC estimates 10% of parents watch their children drown because they don’t know what’s happening. Rescuers may have as few as 20 seconds to save a person from drowning.

Safe Kids Worldwide has released the following information highlighting the dangers of childhood drowning, with a specific focus on incidents that occur in lakes, rivers, oceans, and other types of open water:

  • Overall, an estimated 750 children drown in a single year, and about half of the time, a parent or guardian is within 25 yards of the drowning child when the incident occurs.
  • An additional 7,000 children end up in the emergency room because of a drowning scare. That means a minimum of 150 families a week are impacted by a tragic or frightening event.
  • Most often those drownings take place in open water. A 10-year-old, for example, is three times more likely to drown in open water than in a pool. Older teens are more than eight times more likely to die because of an open water drowning than a pool drowning. 

Commissioner Causey reminds parents and caregivers to take the following precautions around pools and open water:

  • Always watch children and never leave them unattended.
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings.
  • Always keep a charged phone nearby.
  • Know how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Understand the basics of lifesaving so you can assist in an emergency.
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet high around the perimeter of the pool or spa.
  • Use self-closing and self-latching gates.
  • Ensure all pools and spas have compliant drain covers. Install an alarm on the door leading from the house to the pool.

For more detailed information about summer safety including our social media library, visit

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About the Author

Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.