Steven L. Abrams
Mary Lou Berger
"An equal opportunity
Summer National Drowning Stats Disturbing
According to information compiled from media reports and released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC Pool Safely campaign, 137 children younger than 15 years drowned in a pool or spa during the traditional summer season of Memorial Day to Labor Day nationwide. An additional 168 children of that age required emergency response for near-fatal incidents in pools or spas this summer.
“The statistics are alarming and reiterate the need for caregivers, parents, and baby sitters to take note that a breakdown in supervision can easily happen to the best of us,” said Anna Stewart, manager of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County. “The need for layers of protection to be in place, such as alarms, fencing and locks is crucial to prevent a drowning incident from occurring.”
The media figures for this summer show that 54 drownings occurred soon after the children left an adult who was in their immediate vicinity, and 31 children drowned despite the presence of others at the pool. At least 100 of the 137 children who drowned were younger than age 5. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4.
Not every child drowning is reported on or tracked by the media. In turn, it takes time for CPSC to compile data of all child drownings from around the country. Each May, CPSC releases reports for drownings and nonfatal submersions for children younger than 15 years of age. CPSC data from 2007 to 2009 shows an annual average of 243 children drowned in pools or spas during the summer months, which is about 63 percent of the average annual drowning figures for these years.
The Pool Safely campaign is CPSC's national public education and information program aimed at reducing child drownings, near-drowning and entrapment incidents in swimming pools and spas. It provides information on simple steps that parents, caregivers and pool owners should take to ensure that children and adults stay safe in and around pools and spas:
The Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County has teamed with the Pool Safely campaign to help disseminate their message to Palm Beach County residents. This is accomplished by distributing Pool Safely information at health and safety fairs as well as doing free, land-based water safety presentation to audiences of all ages. Free water safety swim lessons for underprivileged and special needs children, who don't know how to swim, will be offered through the Drowning Prevention Coalition starting April 1 of next year.
For more information on pool safety and drowning prevention, please contact Anna Stewart at 616-7068.
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