HOUSTON (July 28, 2014)

Drowning could be considered a silent killer – one that can happen in less than a minute and comes with no warning. As we hit the peak of summer activity this year, physicians at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center are seeing an increased number of drowning and near-drowning incidents in Houston.

“We typically see an increase in water accidents during the months of May through August; however, this year we have seen an increase in actual fatalities from drowning incidents,” said Robert Lapus, MD, Medical Director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School. “With six fatalities in seven weeks, our hope is to increase awareness and prevent future occurrences.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drowning is the number one cause of death for children ages one to four and the third leading cause of death in children under the age of 14. More than fifty percent of pediatric and adult drowning cases treated in the emergency room require long-term hospitalization.

“Education and awareness are key to saving lives,” said Cary Cain, Pediatric Trauma Prevention coordinator at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. “When we are able to connect with parents and adult swimmers in the community and equip them with tips for water supervision and safety, we greatly decrease the odds of seeing children and adults alike in the emergency room.”

This year, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital is helping lead educational efforts in the Houston community by partnering with the Texas Drowning and Prevention Alliance. Special “Water Watcher” tags attached to a whistle with a five-point pledge for water safety are being distributed in the pediatric emergency room and the pediatric acute care unit (PACU) to parents and caretakers visiting the hospital.

According to the Texas Drowning Prevention Alliance, the following tips are important to remember for parents and adult swimmers: