Each year, Florida attorneys are contacted about childhood tragedies involving water injuries. In the summer, especially, Florida lawyers are often contacted by distraught family members after a young child is drowned or sustains a serious injury while swimming in a river, pool, or lake. Florida summers mean cooling dips in the water, but parents and children need to take precautions to ensure water safety.
In 2004 alone, there were an average of nine unintentional fatal drowning in the United States per day, according to the CDC. These statistics do not include the water injuries caused by boating accidents. The CDC further reports that for every child under 14 years of age who dies from drowning, 5 were seriously injured in the water and required emergency treatment and hospitalization.
Water injuries to children can cause serious injury. Bone fractures are common poolside injuries. Brain injuries that result in loss of basic function, loss or memory, and learning disabilities also commonly affect children who have been seriously injured while swimming. Diving accidents commonly cause spinal cord injuries as well. Naturally, all these injuries can affect a child’s ability to develop normally and attend school.
Despite efforts to encourage safe swimming, drowning continues to be the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children between the ages of 1 and14 years of age. Many children under the age of one drown or sustain serious water injury in bathtubs, toilets, or buckets, according to statistics. For children between ages one and 4, most drowning deaths occur in residential pools. In these cases, the children are usually in the care of a parent and wander outside the home and into a pool.
According to the CDC, several things can be done to reduce drowning deaths and childhood water-related injury this summer. First, adult supervision should always be present when children are near water. Supervising adults should be alert and not distracted. Early childhood swimming lessons can help children learn the water safety and swimming skills they need to stay safe in the water.
Parents and other adults who routinely supervise children should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other first aid skills. Having these skills can help save a child’s life. The CDC also advises parents with pools to install pool fences and other barriers to keep pools safe. Removing toys from pools can also encourage children not to wander into the pool area.