Child drownings in pools and spas remain a leading cause of death, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns. The Commission just kicked off the summer swimming season and the third year of its “Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives campaign.” Campaign information can be accessed here.
This year, “Pool Safety’s” focus is on those populations at greatest drowning risk, namely, children younger than five years of age (this group accounts for nearly 75% of child drowning fatalities) and African American and Hispanic children between the ages of five and 14 (who drown at higher rates than Caucasian children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]). Data from USA Swimming indicates that 70% of African American children and 62% of Hispanic children cannot swim, making them especially vulnerable populations.
“CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign has worked to prevent countless drownings, and we will continue to work to save even more lives this year,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “Drowning is still the leading cause of unintentional deaths with children younger than 5. That’s why the Pool Safely campaign is encouraging all parents and caregivers of children, especially African American and Hispanic children, to help them learn to swim and to take water safety seriously.”
New statistics released by CPSC today include:
• 2007-2009: Approximately 390 pool or spa-related drownings (annual average) involved children under age 15; 75% (293), involved children under the age of five and 67% of the injuries involved children 12-47 months of age. Most emergency department-treated submersion injuries involved pools and 73% of deaths involving children under the age 15 took place at a residence.
• 2009 to 2011: About 5,200 pool or spa-related emergency department-treated submersion injuries involved children younger than 15; 79% (4,108) involved children younger than five; and 68% involved children 12-47 months of age. Most emergency department-treated submersion deaths involved pool; 51% of the injuries to children younger than 15 occurred at a residence.
• 2011: There were no reported entrapment fatalities. The CPSC received seven reports of entrapment injury.
• Most incidents involving children under five years of age (54% of the injuries and 85% of the facilities) occurred at residences. About 58% of the deaths (206 annually), occurred in in-ground pools; 10% (40) in portable pools and to children under the age of 15.
Chairman Tenenbaum shared some steps on pool safely and data from CPSC’s annual drowning/near-drowning and entrapment reports, at an event at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale. Chairman Tenenbaum was joined by Wanda Butts, a mother who lost her son to a 2006 drowning and who formed The Josh Project to help other children learn how to swim; Kim Burgess from the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the Broward County Health Department’s Drowning Prevention Coordinator; and USA Swimming’s “Make a Splash” official, Kim O’Shea.
“After losing my son, I wanted to do something to help others, so other moms wouldn’t have to suffer from the loss of a child drowning,” Butts said. “Together, we can make a difference this summer and ensure that our kids pool safely.” Burgess added, “The National Drowning Prevention Alliance has been a partner of the Pool Safely campaign since its inception. Education is the key to preventing tragic incidents at the pool this summer. We encourage everyone to Pool Safely this holiday weekend and in the months to come.”
“The USA Swimming Foundation is proud to lend its research and resources to further the life-saving learn-to-swim message,” said O’Shea. “We are incredibly proud to have enrolled more than 1.2 million children in swimming lessons through our Make a Splash initiative, to educate parents and communities across the nation about the importance of learning to swim.”