The following information was compiled through the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Spa and Pool Institute, the National Safety Council, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and AQUA Magazine, October 1998.
Although showing a slight downward trend, U.S. pool-related drownings have see-sawed for the past several years - despite reinforcement of safety messages in the media.
These causes of injuries and their numbers were reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1995:
Every child can avoid becoming one of these numbers if proper precautions are taken. While it may seem like scare tactics, officials think that statistics may get people to change their behavior and make certain they are exercising safe pool conduct.
About 300 children under 5 years old drown yearly in residential swimming pools. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates hospital emergency room treatment is required for another 2,300 children under 5 who were submerged in residential pools.
Boys between 1 and 3 years old were the most likely victims of fatal drowning and near-fatal submersions in residential swimming pools.
Swimming pool drownings of young children have another particularly insidious features: these are silent deaths. It is unlikely that splashing or screaming will occur to alert a parent or caregiver that a child is in trouble. A toddler drowning in June in Anderson, Ind. didn't wake an adult sleeping near the pool, because the child didn't make any sound.
After motor-vehicle related deaths, drowning is the second leading cause of injury death for children (ages 1 - 19 years) accounting for 1,430 deaths in 1992. For children ages 0 - 4 years, drowning is the third leading cause of death!
In 1993, drowning rates for every age group were four times greater for males than for females. Drowning rates overall among blacks were twice those of whites. But among persons ages 1 - 4 years, the drowning rate among whites was twice the rate among blacks, largely because of drownings in residential swimming pools, says the CPSC.
According to the CPSC, each year emergency departments report about 500 drownings and 3,000 near-drownings among children under age 5 years in residential swimming pools. Sixty to 90 percent of drownings among persons ages 0 - 4 years occur in residential pools and more than half of these drownings occur at the child's own home.
In-ground pools without complete fencing are 60% more likely to involve drowning than are pools with fencing. So-called isolation pool fences that isolate the pool from the house are recommended by officials.
Officials say you can't stress enough the rules for pool safety. The more times they are mentioned, the more likely they are to be followed. NSPI, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other agencies preach pool rules, knowing that constant reminders are key. Here are some of the most important rules to swim by:
Gerald Dworkin, is a professional aquatics safety and water rescue consultant for Lifesaving Resources Inc. and is responsible for aquatics safety, lifeguard, water rescue, and ice rescue training curricula and programs. He also consults as an expert in drowning and aquatic injury litigation. He is a graduate from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, and has over 30 years professional experience in the fire, EMS, and water rescue sector. He is currently a firefighter/EMT for the Harrisville (NH) Fire and Rescue Department.
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