The world’s largest lifeguard organization claims there’s a direct link between child drownings and the smartphones parents hold in their hands.
The German Lifeguard Association, which fields 40,000 volunteer lifeguards across Germany’s lakefronts and beaches, issued a warning to adults on phone distraction after more than 300 drownings occurred in the nation this year, The Guardian reported Wednesday.
“We’re experiencing on a daily basis that people treat swimming pools like a kindergarten and simply don’t pay attention,” said Peter Harzheim, president of the German federation of swimming pool supervisors, according to the newspaper.
German lifeguards also blamed a lack of mandatory swimming education in school systems at time when parents are increasingly too busy to squeeze in swim lessons for kids, The Guardian reported.
Last month, police in the United Arab Emirates warned parents to put down phones at the pool after two boys, ages 8 and 9, drowned in separate incidents in June.
“Families should not be busy with their smart devices while children are swimming, and should avoid filling the swimming pool to the maximum,” Abu Dhabi Police said in a statement, according to The National.
The global concern exists in the United States as well: A Texas mother was charged after a witness reportedly claimed she was using her phone while three of her children drowned in an apartment complex pool in 2015.
Drowning rates are highest among children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most such drownings occur in home pools.
Community health advocates in Forth Worth, Texas, pleaded with parents last year to “lifeguard your child” by putting down their phones at the pool.
“I don’t think parents understand how quickly and quietly drowning occurs,” Sharon Evans, an outreach coordinator for Cook Children’s hospital, said in a statement.
“There is no thrashing, no yelling for help. The drowning child is just trying to push down on the water to get their head above the surface to gasp a breath of air.”