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Summer Can Mean More Drownings in New Mexico

PHOTO: Summer in New Mexico means residents and tourists will be heading to lakes and rivers to cool off and relax, but it also can mean greater risk of drowning. Photo credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife.
PHOTO: Summer in New Mexico means residents and tourists will be heading to lakes and rivers to cool off and relax, but it also can mean greater risk of drowning. Photo credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife.
June 11, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Summer in New Mexico can bring an increased risk of drowning, and parents are being encouraged to pay extra close attention to their children.

John McPhee, childhood injury prevention coordinator with the New Mexico Safe Kids Coalition, says on average 28 people die from drowning each year in the state. He says contrary to what is portrayed in movies and on television, drowning can happen quickly and quietly.

"The perception always with somebody that's drowning is that somebody is screaming before they drown," says McPhee. "Quite the opposite is true. Since they're gasping for air and swallowing water, the last thing they're able to do in most cases, not all, is scream."

When it comes to drowning, it's reported that health events are the leading cause for older victims, while drugs and alcohol get much of the blame for young adults.

McPhee says drowning can happen in swimming pools, rivers, lakes and bathtubs. He adds that teaching children how to swim at an early age can be helpful in getting them comfortable in the water.

"Parents don't realize that children can already be getting accustomed to the water even when they're six to eight months old," he says. "Get to the point where they're not panicking in the water, then they progress into dog paddling and floating."

McPhee says it's also important to always wear a life jacket in open water, and recommends having a fence that separates a backyard swimming pool from the rest of the yard.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM