Pool Safety and Drowning: It Could Be Your Child

With spring and summer comes the renewed enjoyment of swimming. Few activities are more attractive to children than swimming and swimming pools. However, parents can never really relax when children are in the water, especially those with young children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that, “drowning is the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning.”

Simply because your children are no longer toddlers does not mean they are without risk, drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children up to 14 years of age. In Oregon, rivers and lakes present an additional danger in the spring with icy snowmelt and fast currents.

Drowning Victims

Drowning deaths rarely make the headlines or attract much media coverage, like a plane crash or some large-scale disaster. The CDC reports 10 people per day die in the United States of unintentional drowning deaths. In 2009, drowning deaths totaled 3,517.

Unfortunately, an Every Day Occurrence

Because drowning happens in ordinary locations, in backyard and municipal pools, lakes, ponds and rivers, it often escapes our attention. It is easy to underestimate the risks, and not adequately warn of the danger. Pools are not secured, children are left unattended or the attention of an adult is distracted by conversation, a phone call, an email or a book.

While many local ordinances require pools to be fenced and secured, if there are small children present, one must be eternally vigilant to the risk posed by the pool and active supervision is necessary. With small children, drowning is always a risk.

The danger is not limited to death. Injures that occur can be severe. Fifty-five percent of drowning victims require immediate medical treatment and may require hospitalization. Because of the loss of oxygen during a drowning, significant brain damage can occur, leading to “long-term disabilities including memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state)” according to the CDC.

How to Prevent Pool Drowning and Injuries

It goes without saying that anyone in a pool or other body of water should know how to swim. Anyone, but particularly young children, with limited or no swimming ability should wear a personal flotation device and remain within arm’s reach of a parent or supervising adult.

The most important factor to prevent a drowning or near drowning incident is active supervision. Anytime children are in a pool or near water, a responsible adult should be focused on supervising their activities, as if it were a matter of life and death.

Our firm works with national caliber experts to evaluate drowning and near drowning cases to determine what, if anything could have prevented the incident. We would be happy to speak with you if you have additional questions or concerns in the area of drowning prevention.