In Southwest Florida, there is nothing better than spending a hot summer day by the pool. While swimming is a fun way to make memories with your loved ones, it has potential to be dangerous, or even deadly, for children and adolescents. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2017 alone, drowning claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 US children.
Drowning is the leading cause of injury or death in United States children aged 1 to 4, as well as the third leading cause of unintentional injury or death among United States children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 (source). The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has provided the following statistics on US drownings:
- Drowning in a pool or spa claims approximately 300 kids below the age of 5 annually.
- Approximately 4,000 children under 5 years old suffer non-fatal drowning injuries and required emergency room treatment each year.
- 87% of drowning fatalities involving children under 5 happened at residential pools or spas. These include pools owned by the family, friends, or relatives of the victim.
- Even smaller, portable pools claim an average of 40 lives per year for children under the age of 15.
Factors Which Increase Drowning Risk:
The Centers for Disease Control considers the primary factors which affect drowning risk to be a lack of swimming ability, unsupervised access to water, a lack of barriers, a lack of supervision, seizure disorders, and alcohol use.
- Lack of swimming ability: never leave a person who is unable to swim unsupervised,
- Lack of barriers: a barrier such as pool fencing can help prevent unsupervised children from gaining access to water. A four-sided isolation fence reduces a child's risk of drowning by 83% compared to a 3-sided fence,
- Lack of supervision: Even with a lifeguard present, drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water,
- Seizure disorders: Drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury or death for those with seizure disorders, though the bathtub is a higher risk-area than the pool.
- Alcohol use: The CDC states that among adolescents and adults, alcohol use was a factor in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation. Alcohol use affects one's balance, coordination, and judgement, and the effects are made only stronger by sun exposure.
How to Prevent Accidental Drownings:
Having children participate in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning in children aged 4 or younger. No matter how skilled your child is as a swimmer, however, NEVER leave a child unattended when around water. Always have a designated responsible adult within reach of the child, while remembering to stay focused, as drowning can happen quickly and quietly. When it comes to drowning, seconds count – if you can, learn CPR. In the time it could take for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills may save a life.
Do You Need an Attorney?
A child drowning is one of the most tragic accidents a parent could experience, and not every case requires the involvement of an injury attorney. In cases where a pool owner, pool fence installer, or pool maintenance company may have acted negligently leading to a child being injured or killed due to an unsafe condition at the pool, however, the victim's family may be able to hold them accountable under the law.
An unsecured pool railing or fence, an incorrect pool drain cover, or another type of unsafe scenario can result in the death or serious injury to a swimmer, no matter how old they are. There are also laws regarding what is known as an “attractive nuisance”, which means an inherently dangerous or unsafe physical location that may be attractive to children. This could apply to an unattended, accessible pool.
If you feel a drowning or near drowning of a family member was the result of another party's negligence or lack of safety precautions, we are always available to speak with you at no cost. Please contact us by calling (239) 461-5508, or fill out this form and we will contact you immediately.
We hope you have a safe, happy, and fun summer!