Drowning is Second Leading Cause of Death Among Youth, Officials Say

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Five peopled have drowned in Iowa waters over the last week, and medical experts say many of the deaths likely could have been prevented.

On Saturday, a six-year-old girl was pulled from Gray's Lake 20 minutes after she went under the water. She was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. The young girl's family says she was playing on the beach when they took their eyes off her for a brief moment.

Gray's Lake does not have lifeguards on duty, but the city does offer free life jackets on site for guests to use. Otherwise, it is up lake-goers to keep an eye on swimmers. Mercy physician Doctor Steven Dawson says unless an adult is watching a child at all times, there is no such thing as water safety. He says drownings can happen in a matter of moments, and rescuers need to act fast once a victim is pulled from the water.

"I recommend everyone take a basic life support course. It will give you confidence. Some effort is better than no effort, even if you forget a lot of it," he says.

Dawson adds, for young children especially, rescuers should focus on performing mouth to mouth resuscitation instead of chest compression, aiming to get oxygen back into the bloodstream instead of getting water out of the lungs.

Second to motor vehicle crashes, drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages one to 14 years old. Earlier this month, a nine-year-old and two-year-old girl drowned while swimming at two different state parks.