Florida’s children under 5 are more at risk of drowning here than in any other state. Every single year, the number of children who drown could fill up three preschool classrooms.
These deaths are totally preventable, and may be the result of negligence by caregivers and/or property owners.
Just last month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released new figures showing the number of deaths and injuries resulting from child drownings in both spas and pools continues to be a serious public health and safety risk.
The good news is at least nationally, it has gone down somewhat. In 2010, there were nearly 400 child deaths resulting from drowning in spas and pools. Of those, 300 were children under the age of five, while the rest were children under the age of 15.
In 2011, the number of deaths dropped to 364 and in 2012, it was down to 279. This is a good start, but it’s still entirely too many.
We also know the majority of these incidents – more than 55 percent – happened at residential homes with in-ground pools. Portable pools accounted for 7 percent of all drownings nationally.
These figures do not account for the number of non-fatal drowning incidents. Hospital emergency rooms report treating 5,400 pool and spa-related injuries annually in the last two years. This number has increased, as there were 4,900 reported in 2013.
This tells us a couple of things. One is that children are surviving these incidents more frequently than they were before. This could be attributed to a number of factors, including educating caregivers that when a child goes missing, the first place to look is the nearby pool or bathtub. It could also be party the result of improved medical response to these incidents, as it has become a top priority for many hospitals and emergency departments in particular.
Unfortunately, that increase tells us drowning incidents among young children continues to happen at a high rate.
Nowhere is this more true than Florida. The Sunshine State has a drowning rate of 7.5 per 100,000 population between the ages of 1 and 4. Nationally, the ratio is 2.5 per 100,000.
The best way to prevent child drowning deaths in Florida is to safeguard against unsupervised access to pools and hot tubs.
Bear in mind, a child can drown in the time it takes to throw a load of dirty clothes in the laundry or answer a phone call. It’s sometimes referred to as a “silent catastrophe” because children often make no noise when it happens.
Prevention involves ensuring multiple layers of protection. These are:
- Adequate supervision. This is perhaps the most critical. Make sure children are actively watched at all times, most especially while at the pool.
- Barriers. Children should never have access to a pool or hot tub without an adult. By placing barriers such as pool fences, locked doors and windows and alarm systems, most of these incidents can be prevented.
- Preparing for emergency. Every second without oxygen matters. If a child is discovered to have fallen in the pool, it is critical to know how to respond. Learn CPR and begin performing it immediately upon discovering the child. Providing that crucial amount of air in the window between when the child is found to when emergency responders arrive could save the child from serious brain damage or even death.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
CPSC, Rep. Wasserman Schultz, Water Safety Community Join Fores to Urge Al Families to Pool Safety, May 21, 2015, Consumer Product Safety Commission
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