Increase In Child Drownings In Germany Linked To Parents’ Obsessions With Smartphones

This summer more than 300 people have drowned in Germany, and now lifeguards in the country have issued a warning to parents that one cause of increased risk of death is a growing obsession with smart phones. In other words, parents are too busy with their phones to notice when their children are having trouble in the water. The warning was issued after The German Lifeguard Association (DLRG) made a direct connection with parents using their smartphones and children drowning.

“Too few parents and grandparents are heeding the advice: when your children and grandchildren are in the water, put your smartphone away,” Achim Wiese, spokesman for the DLRG said.

Peter Harzheim of the German federation of pool supervisors added some comments of his own to the warning issued.

“We’re experiencing on a daily basis that people treat swimming pools like a kindergarten and simply don’t pay attention.”

“In the past, parents and grandparents spent more time with their children in the swimming pool. But increasing numbers of parents are fixated by their smartphones and are not looking left or right, let alone paying attention to their children,” he went on to tell the German media. “It’s sad that parents behave so neglectfully these days.”

As The Guardian reports, the issue isn’t only about smartphones. The organizations are also blaming school districts that have not made swimming lessons obligatory. On top of that, budget cuts have lead to swimming pools being open to families for shorter times and when added to more homes where both parents work full-time, there’s much less time for children to take swimming lessons.

Just this week the drowning of a 7-year-old boy made headlines. He died in a pool he jumped into in the Bavarian town of Marktredwitz. A man seeking to cool off died in Münster after jumping into a canal. Those are just two cases in the recent wave of drownings, 20 of which were children under the age of 15. An additional 40 between the ages of 16 and 25 have also lost their lives this summer.

The German Swimming Association has warned that the country is about to turn into one of non-swimmers, between budget cuts for public pools and children not having lessons early in life. That can lead to some serious issues, says the DSV’s Axel Dietrich.

“So people have drowned this summer in particular because they knew nothing about the water temperatures and the currents in the particular water they’ve been in, or because they suddenly got a cramp in their leg in the middle of a lake and had no idea what to do.”