WASHINGTON, DC – From Memorial Day through Labor Day 2013, at least 202 children between the ages of 1 and 14 drowned in a swimming pool or spa in the United States, according to media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation. Of those, 143 of the victims were children younger than age 5.
The latest media-reported figures are consistent with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) annual Submersion Report, and show that young children and toddlers are especially vulnerable to drowning. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children 1 to 4 years of age and it is the second leading cause of death for children from 5 to 14 years old.
“The time is now to turn the tide on child drownings,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “In warm weather states and indoor swim parks, pools are still open. Let’s work together to prevent drownings by putting up barriers and having eyes-on supervision of children in and around the water.”
CPSC’s national Pool Safely campaign reinforces important safety steps: fence all pools, stay close to children in the water, be alert, and teach children how to swim.
Media-reported drownings show that during the summer of 2013, the following states suffered the largest number of pool and spa drownings involving children younger than 15 (figures may not account for all fatalities):
The Pool Safely campaign provides information on the simple steps that parents, caregivers, and pool owners should take to ensure that children and adults stay safe in and around pools and spas:
• Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water.
• Designate a water watcher to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone, or otherwise distracted.
• Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim. • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
• Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapments.
• Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards, and, if you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safe drain covers.
The Pool Safely campaign was launched in 2010 to raise awareness about pool and spa safety, as mandated by the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. The campaign has increased its focus on populations most at risk of drowning. African American children between the ages of 5 and 19 are six times more likely to drown in pools than white and Hispanic children that age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Data from USA Swimming indicate that 70 percent of African American children, 60 percent of Hispanic children, and 40 percent of white children cannot swim. Children who cannot swim are more likely to drown.