194182 Children's Behaviors and Risk Perceptions Towards Open Water Environments

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lindsay M. Bartholf, MPH , Safe Kids Worldwide, Washington, DC
Jacqueline D. Simmons, MPH, CHES , Safe Kids Worldwide, Washington, DC
Jurek G. Grabowski , Department of Evaluation and Research, Safe Kids Worldwide, Washington, DC
Among all U.S. registered boaters, 476 open water drowning fatalities occurred in 2007 of which 90% were not wearing personal flotation devices (PFD). The U.S. Coast Guard maintains the use of life jackets could prevent the majority of boating related drownings. Data reveals that while the percent of drowning victims in natural water settings increases with age, life jacket usage diminishes. The objective of this study was to gain a stronger understanding of children's salient behaviors in, and perceptions of, open water environments in order to identify a suitable program that would augment life jacket usage among the public. A cross-sectional survey collected baseline data on knowledge levels, risk perceptions and behaviors relevant to open water environments among children 8 to 11 years old (N=67). Ninety-three percent of the children reported always wearing a life jacket while on a boat, however, 62% reported not owning a life jacket and another 10 percent were uncertain of their ownership status. Of the respondents, 36% asserted not wearing a PFD due to lack of availability; an additional 25% believe the devices are unnecessary to wear when an adult is watching them. These findings supported and shaped the eventual adaptation and expansion of a water safety program called Kids Don't Float. This water safety intervention aimed to improve children's knowledge about open water safety, foster a more cautious attitude within the boating and water community, and fulfill a tangible need of distributing life jackets to children and their families.

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify children's relevant behaviors, barriers, and perceived risks of natural water environments (lakes, rivers and oceans) 2) Describe how a water safety program sought to have an impact on life jacket usage among children.

Keywords: Injury Prevention, Child/Adolescent

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have made substantial contributions to the content of the work. Moreover, I have 12 years of public health research and program activity.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.