'Tis the Drowning Season
Drowning and near-drowning are very important issues for
everyone. In one-third of our states, drowning is the number cause of
unintentional injury death of children 1 to 4 years of age. Drowning, by
definition, is fatal. For every child who drowns, there are at least four
children hospitalized because they almost drowned and survived. Thirty percent
of these near-drowning victims who are comatose on admission end up with
significant neurologic impairment and will become developmentally delayed.
It takes less than five minutes of unsupervised time for a child to leave a safe
area, find their way to the pool, and drown. A study in Orange County a few
years ago found that two-thirds of drowning deaths occurred among children last
seen safe indoors. This is an indication that pools are accessed by small
children quickly and easily when no one is paying attention to them.
Prevention of drowning and near-drowning is clearly possible. The barrier
approach mandated a couple of years ago for new construction will not protect
pools that currently do not have physical barriers to keep young children out.
Barriers are not intended to replace the most important prevention action of
all: RESPONSIBLE ADULT SUPERVISION. A lack of attention for only a short moment
may mean death or life long damage to a young child.
Is there a fence around your swimming pool?
Is the fence at least 5 feet high with vertical bars that children can not
Does the fence have a self-closing, self-latching gate with the latch out of
reach of young children?
Do you have rescue equipment near the pool?
Do you know rescue and water safety skills?
Are all the pool chemical supplies and equipment kept locked up at all times?
Do you keep a cordless telephone by the pool?
Do you know CPR?