Summer is here at last, and as the temperatures rise, more and more Oregonians take to the great outdoors for fresh air, sunshine (whenever it shows up) and some exercise. Unfortunately, the season that brings longer daylight hours and warmer weather also reminds us all too frequently and in the worst possible way that pool drownings are still a serious problem.
Kicking off the season of happy swimmers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) launched the third year of their “Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives” campaign. The emphasis this year is raising awareness of the need to provide swimming lessons to those in our society most at risk of drowning. The figures released show that:
- Children under the age of 5 make up 75 percent of child drownings in America.
- African American and Hispanic children between the ages of 5 and 14 drown at notably higher rates than white children, according to figures released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Separate data released by USA Swimming revealed that about 7 out of 10 African American children and more than 6 out of 10 Hispanic children are unable to swim. This makes these groups exceptionally vulnerable to drowning accidents.
- Drowning is still the number one cause of unintentional fatalities in children under the age of 5, nationwide.
Teach kids to swim and take water very seriously
The CPSC says their Pool Safely campaign specifically encourages parents and caregivers to help children learn how to swim. This can be done either by the parents themselves or through the countless swimming classes offered in Oregon and across the country.
CPSC Chairperson Inez Tenenbaum also says children need to be taught to take water safety seriously. Kids always see the fun side of swimming pools, but too often fail to recognize the deadly dangers present.
Some of the figures released by CPSC make truly worrying reading, according to Portland child injury attorneys. The most recent statistics regarding swimming pool safety reveal:
- Between 2007 and 2009, an average of 390 pool or spa-related deaths due to drowning was reported each year. Out of those 390 deaths, a shocking average of 293 involved children under the age of 5.
- Even more recently, from 2009 to 2011, an annual average of 5,200 pool or spa-related submersion injuries to children under the age of 15 required visits to emergency departments. While that figure is disturbingly high, the fact that of those 5,200 injuries, children under the age of 5 were victims of an average of 4,108 (or 79 percent) of that total is especially worrying.
- Very young children—from ages 1 to 3—were involved in two out of every three pool-related injuries between 2009 and 2011.
- Swimming pools represent the most dangerous areas; the majority of submersion injuries from 2009 through 2011, and the reported fatalities from 2007 through 2009 were associated with pools.
Residential pools dominate the statistics
More than half of all swimming pool injuries that occurred from 2009 through 2011 involving young children occurred at residential pools. This comes as something of a surprise to many people, giving the hordes of people that flock to public pools in hot weather. The figures don’t lie, however. Almost three out of every four (73 percent) swimming pool fatalities for children under the age of 15 occurred at a residential pool.
For very young children, the statistics are even worse. They showed that:
- Children from 0 to 5 years of age were involved in 54 percent of residential pool location injury incidents and a shocking 85 percent of residential pool fatalities.
- An annual average of 226 out of the 390 drowning deaths that occur each year happen in in-ground pools.
- Portable pools were involved in just slightly more than 10 percent of the reported fatalities (average of 40 per year).
Education is the key to saving lives
Joining the CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign again this year is the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA). Their spokesperson, Kim Burgess, said the two-pronged approach of teaching children to swim and to recognize the dangers associated with swimming pools are the easiest ways to prevent drowning deaths. “Education is the key to preventing tragic accidents in the pool this summer,” Burgess said. “We encourage everyone to ‘Pool Safely’ this…weekend and in the months to come.”
Also on board is the USA Swimming Foundation. Their ‘Make a Splash’ official, Kim O’Shea, said helping children learn to swim is in itself an exercise in life saving. “We are incredibly proud to have enrolled more than 1.2 million children in swimming lessons through our Make a Splash initiative; to educate parents and communities across the nation about the importance of learning to swim,” O’Shea said.
Any parents or caregivers wishing to access swimming pool safety information and tips, or who want to find out more about the various initiatives being set up across the country to encourage children to learn how to swim can visit PoolSafely.gov.
No parent likes to think of their child being injured, especially in something as serious and traumatic as a submersion accident. The thought of a child losing their life in a swimming pool is almost too horrific to contemplate.
Teaching a child to swim is a fantastic gift that parents and caregivers can and should bestow on their youngsters. In addition, anyone who owns a residential pool should do everything in their power to ensure the safety of those who come into the pool area, especially young children.
Sadly, accidents continue to happen, and occasionally, this is due to the negligence of the person who owns or manages the pool, whether that pool is private or public property. If your child has been injured in a swimming pool accident and you think it might have been due to someone not meeting their responsibilities, contact a compassionate and reputable Portland child injury attorney for a free consultation.
If your child has been badly injured, there may be large bills for emergency room treatment, ongoing medical bills and even counseling after the trauma. The person who’s responsible for your child’s injuries should also be responsible for paying those bills, so make a call to a good personal injury lawyer, who will gladly answer your questions and advise you of the best way to proceed with your claim.