Central Texas has seen 10 fatal child drownings so far this year, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services — a notable increase when compared to two in 2018 and four in 2017.
“Throughout the year we were tracking the spike in drownings throughout the state of Texas and specifically a 400% increase in Travis County alone,” said Megan Ferraro, the executive director of the nonprofit ZAC Foundation.
The foundation is working with local organizations, including Dell Childrens’ Medical Center, Colin’s Hope and Safe Kids Austin, to combat what they call a stark increase in drownings both nationally and statewide.
Those community partners are looking to create more education and training programs for water safety.
“We plan to roll [a water safety plan] out in April and May [next] year,” Ferraro said. “So that community leaders, educators, public health officials and parents can really take a look at what we recommend and implement those strategies during the warmer months.”
According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, drownings are the number one cause of “unintentional injury deaths for children ages one to four.” It’s the second leading cause for those under the age of 14.
“Water safety isn’t just for children one to four,” said Ferraro. “Its from children from birth to age 18 and we need to make sure we’re educating our children and parents on the importance of water safety.”
As of Monday, Texas has seen 85 child drownings so far this year, compared to 91 fatal drownings in 2018 and 77 in 2017. Texas routinely leads the nation in total drownings.