Parents whose children have drowned say the day of the tragedy started out just like any other day. No matter how the drowning happened, one thing was the same for all these parents: The three tragic seconds that claimed their child's life slid by silently, without warning, and can never be brought back.
Curiosity, rapidly changing skills and an ability to understand danger place young children at high risk. Adults must establish and communicate responsibility for child supervision:
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths to children ages 14 and under. It can happen in a matter of seconds - in the time it takes to answer the phone. There is often no splashing to warn of trouble. Children can drown in small quantities of water and are at risk in their own homes from wading pools, bathtubs, buckets, diaper pails, and toilets, as well as swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs.
The statistics are frightening. Each year in the United States, 1,150 children (ages 14 and under) drown - more than half of these children are preschoolers (ages 0-4). An estimated 5,000 children (ages 14 and under) are hospitalized due to near-drownings, and of children surviving near-drownings, 5-20 percent suffer severe and permanent disability.
Summer can be one of the most exciting and fun-filled times of the year, but also one of the most dangerous. Two-thirds of yearly drowning accidents happen between May and August so be prepared! In recognition of Drowning Prevention and Awareness month, take a few moments to familiarize yourself with what it takes to stay safe and have fun.
Q: Drowning isn't really a problem, is it?
A: Yes. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages one to four in the United States today. A residential pool is 14 times more likely to cause a death than an automobile.
Q: Don't more children die in open water than in pools?
A: No. More than 50 percent of deaths by drowning occur in residential pools. Natural bodies of water comprise 19 percent. Public pools another 19 percent.
Q: Isn't it more important to have a locked gate to keep neighbors out?
A: No. Nearly 65 percent of the children were at their own home at the time of the incident. Forty-six percent of the children were last seen safe inside the house just before the drowning and 72 percent had direct access to the pool once they were outside the home.
Q: Isn't it just parental neglect that causes drowning?
A: No. According to the U.S.CPSC Drowning Study, conscientious parents who understand the need for supervision were almost always present.
Q: Won't swimming lessons protect a child from drowning?
A: No. Swimming lessons do not prepare a child for a drowning or near-drowning situation.
Q: Isn't constant supervision enough to prevent drowning?
A: No. Experts recommend "layers" of protection which include a well-maintained fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate and alarm systems, powered safety pool covers, and self-closing, self-latching doors with automatic sliding door closers.
Q: Is there any proof that fences or safety barriers work? Can't a child climb over a fence?
A: Yes. In studies conducted in Australia and New Zealand, the findings suggest that adequate, four-sided pool fencing reduced drownings by 80 percent while studies in Arizona demonstrated a 50 percent reduction.
Q: Do pool owners without young children need to install protective barriers?
A: Yes. Statistics show that 35 percent of residential drownings are not at the home of the victim.
When the sun comes out and the weather heats up, community pools open for the season and people head to the beach for the first time. Many lives can be saved and injuries prevented this summer by following some simple water safety tips:
Just how serious is the problem? Drowning is the number one cause of death for children under five in Florida, Arizona, and California with a ranking of number two for over a dozen other states. For every drowning there are eleven near drowning incidents, according to government statistics, many of which result in totally disabling brain damage.
The majority of the parents involved were responsible people who thought it could never happen to their family. They were careful and had close supervision over their children. Many were in upper income brackets, educated, and could afford nice homes with pools in family-oriented communities. So we are literally talking about people who could live next door to you.
Supervision is always the primary layer of protection, but as studies show, 69 percent of drowning incidents occurred when parental supervision failed and there were not other "backup layers" in place, such as pool gates (with locks) or alarms on access doors. There can be no compromise on pool safety as it can truly become a life and death situation. Pool rules need to be set and obeyed. A pool drowning is not necessarily an "accident", it is foreseeable and therefore preventable. Keep your family safe this summer and be prepared!
Learn more about your primary layer of protection, removable mesh pool fence. Right now. CHILDREN DROWN WITHOUT A SOUND SO WATCH THE WATER! SIMPLY THE BEST
Please always have adult supervision.
Do not allow running on the edge of Pool.
Install Pool Lights for night vision.
Keep large floating toys out of the Pool, they block view.
Never allow extension cords near a pool.
Keep pool chemicals locked away.
Make sure your babysitter can swim "have them show you"
Teach all children to swim as early as possible.