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Drowning and Pool Injuries Are a Major Cause of Concern for Parents

Among children between the ages of one and fourteen, drowning is the second major cause of injury-related fatalities. Most children who drown are swimming in an open water area or in a residential swimming pool at the time of the accident. However, parents do not need to worry just about pools and swimming areas. It is possible for a small child to drown in as little as one inch of water. Bathtubs, buckets, wading pools, toilets, hot tubs, spas, and even diaper pails can all pose a risk for drowning.

Drowning is extremely frightening because it can occur so quickly and quietly. In many cases, a drowning or an injury and near-drowning can occur in just a few seconds. In many cases, a drowning can occur in just a few moments, when a child is left unattended or is left unnoticed among a larger group of children. A child can easily panic and become submerged under water. A child can also hit their head and lose consciousness due to their brain injury, drowning before an adult can notice the child is in distress. Some children may get sucked under water by currents or by a pool drain and get stuck.

After a child becomes submerged and two minutes pass, the child will lose consciousness. Four to six minutes after submersion, irreversible brain damage has usually occurred. Time is essential. About 92% children who survive a near-drowning incident are discovered within two minutes of becoming submerged, while 86% of children who die as a result of drowning are found only 10 minutes after submersion. Studies have found that up to 20% of children who suffer a near-drowning incident suffer brain injuries or some neurological disability as a result of their experience. In many cases, this head trauma is a permanent injury.

Studies have found that 300 children ages 4 and under die in residential swimming pool drownings each year. About 33% of these incidents occur at a pool belonging to a relative, neighbor, or friend. About half of these incidents involve a pool belonging to the child’s family. In most cases involving a child’s fatal drowning, the child was under the supervision of one or two parents and was missing for less than five minutes before being found in the pool. In many instances, the child was last seen in the home and the adults supervising the child did not know that the child had gone into the pool.

About 62% of all drownings and near-drowning incidents occur between May and August, although they can take place at any time. States like Florida, which have warm weather longer into the year, tend to see more incidents outside of the May to August time span. In fact, states in the Southern areas of the United States have higher rates of drowning fatalities than states in colder climates. Rural areas have higher fatality rates from drowning than urban or suburban areas. About 40% of drowning and near-drowning incidents occur on the weekends.

Studies have found that installing fencing on all four sides of a pool and adding a locked gate to the fence can reduce residential swimming pool incidents involving children by up to 50-90%. In addition, there are many other devices on the market – including automatic pool covers, pool alarms, and pool gate alarms, for example – that can reduce the risk of drowning even further. Florida has laws in place requiring fencing around swimming pools. Arizona, Oregon, and California have similar laws.