Drowning incidents, whether fatal or nonfatal, continue to be a serious concern in the United States. Drowning affects individuals of all ages and backgrounds all across the country. It is the single leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In an effort to make dramatic changes to these numbers, key stakeholders have come together over the last four years to create and officially launch the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan (USNWSAP).
This collaborative effort sets out a plan for 2023-2032, including how the field can work together and make a difference in the drowning numbers. This is an update from our previous blog on the USNWSAP.
Uniting for a Common Goal
The launch of the USNWSAP marks a pivotal moment in our nation’s commitment to addressing the drowning rates. According to the CDC, an average of 11 fatal drownings happen every day. The launch of this plan brings everyone together to tackle this issue head-on.
Within the USNWSAP you will find 99 recommendations for action, a list of national implications that will support the uptake of recommendations at the community, county, and state levels, and guidance documents to start your work addressing drowning in your local area. A research agenda, an implementation database, and additional guidance tools and resources will be released later this year.
The Wonder of Collaboration For the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan
The USNWSAP includes guidance on a 12-step Reflection to Action process to support the development of local plans at the community, county, and state levels. The process is divided into two phases, and the first phase involves undertaking a reflection exercise to support action planning.
The first step is bringing a group of people together who are empowered and excited to think through the process and get started on reflection. This includes working together to identify who should be engaged in the reflection and planning process. Ensuring you have the right people at the table is important to bring different perspectives and ideas together.
Each community, county, and state is different and has unique features, such as diverse waterscapes and hazards. Taking time to look thoroughly at what your needs are, followed by exploring the available drowning data that can identify groups at risk and relevant trends, can again help keep the group focused on how to make the proper changes.
The USNWSAP continues on to break down 6 overall action recommendation areas. You can look specifically at each action recommendation as it relates to your community needs.
What can YOU do now?
The USNWSAP includes a variety of activities that you can do and central to this is working together to create change. As with the group working together to create and implement the action plan, you can’t do this alone. There are many different ways that you can help. You can get involved within your community to start the reflection-to-action process, help implement recommendations, and be a leader and champion for water safety.
Many different perspectives, experiences, and expertise are needed to make the changes as successful as they can be. Being a part of the decision-making and implementation of these changes will help your community be a safer place for all residents and visitors.
The overall theme throughout the plan is collaboration. Every person taking a small action leads to a bigger impact and can help lower the drowning rates. Use this plan to help you and your community stay safer in and around the water.