This blog has a different tone than most others I write. As a mother of young boys, I’m keenly aware of the statistics: drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children 1 – 4 years old. It’s the second leading cause of death (only behind car wrecks) in children 1 -14 years old. At Dollywood’s Splash Country, we believe it’s our responsibility to raise awareness about water safety.
Statistics (The Why)
I mentioned stats, so let’s talk about those numbers for a minute. On paper, June is the deadliest month when it comes to drowning. It’s a fast and silent killer—it can happen in as little as 20 to 60 seconds.
In the United States, we average 3,500 to 4,000 drowning deaths per year. That’s about 10 drownings a day. The highest rates are among children, and boys have twice the mortality rate than girls.
Here’s my favorite statistic in this bunch: participating in formal swim lessons reduces the risk of drowning by 88%! For this reason, Dollywood’s Splash Country is committed to doing what we can to help educate our community.
What We’re Doing
Mark your calendar for Thursday, June 23. For the past decade, our water park has participated in the global event World’s Largest Swimming Lesson because we believe swim lessons save lives. Basic skills such as floating and moving through the water can equip swimmers for survival.
We will start the day with a 30-minute swim lesson for interested water park guests. There are no age requirements—anyone can participate! We’ll be at the wave pool (waves off, of course!) at 9:30 a.m.
We’ll focus on simple skills. I love knowing that aquatic facilities around the world are doing the same thing on this day as we work toward zero drownings. Swim lessons are key in reducing the number of people lost to drowning. But that’s not all we can do.
Building from a Lesson
When we first joined World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, we realized it’s only a 30-minute event. We decided to build it out and make it a day dedicated to water safety. Hence, Dollywood’s Splash Country’s Water Safety Day was born. After the swim lesson ends, we have lots of other opportunities for our guests to continue their education. We’re even planning a second (low key) lesson for those with special needs!
The day is packed with reasons you should bring your family to enjoy Splash Country on June 23. Here’s a bulleted (not exhaustive) list of all that’s included with park admission:
-Free 30-minute swim lesson
-Watch our lifeguards demonstrate a water rescue and/or ask them about how a lifejacket should fit
-Learn the signs of a heat stroke from our partners at Covenant Health
-Find a list of resources for swim lessons
-Sign up for a CPR certification class
-Visit the vendors on the wave pool deck for a chance to win two Two-Park Silver Season Passes valid at both Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country
-Do all of the above AND enjoy all the slides and attractions of the Smokies’ most-trusted water park
Our Water Safety Campaign
To help us beat this drum, we’ve partnered with WVLT-TV and WIVK-FM (in addition to Covenant Health). Beginning June 1, you will see/hear water safety tips every day leading up to our Water Safety Day event on June 23. Quick tidbits like the one below will appear on WVLT and on the air waves of WIVK.
Hopefully, this will remind you to be vigilant. Drowning is preventable. Let’s raise our voice and our awareness about water safety. We’ll look for you on June 23!