As we head into summer, many people look forward to the transformation of their backyards into great places to cool off and keep fit with in-ground and portable pools. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), many people still don’t know that drowning is a leading cause of death for children in the U.S. It’s the leading cause of injury death for children between the ages of 1 and 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the 390 drowning deaths reported on average to the CPSC each year, 75 percent are children under age 5. Sixty-seven percent of those deaths are children between the ages of 1 and 3. And, according to the CDC, although drowning dangers can be a year-round hazard in warmer states, most injuries and deaths related to pools occur between May and August.
Concerned parents and caregivers can go to the CPSC’s Pool Safety web portal, which contains safety tips and information for families, as well as more statistics and facts about drowning injuries and how they occur. According to the CPSC, nearly half of all child drowning injuries and deaths occur at home. The next most common place for injury is at a friend or relative’s house. About 58 percent of drowning-related injuries among children up to 14 years old occur among boys. Though drowning injuries don’t occur only in pools–some can occur in places like spas–most happen in pools. Nearly 60 percent happen while using in-ground pools; another 10 percent happen in portable pools.
The CPSC recommends a few simple steps that parents, family members and neighbors can follow to keep their pools and spas safe for all to enjoy. They recommend parents and pool owners:
- Install pool and gate alarms;
- Fence off pools with 4-foot or higher fencing, using self-closing or self-latching gates;
- Keep an eye on young children at all times;
- Assign a ‘water watcher’ to monitor children of all ages while swimming;
- Stay within arm’s reach while in and around a pool;
- Learn CPR;
- Get swimming lessons for everyone.
Although children are a particularly vulnerable group when it comes to drowning injury or death, everyone should approach swimming or poolside relaxing with caution. Between 2009 and 2011, hospitals across the U.S. treated about 5,200 injuries each year because of drowning, says the CDC. As the summer months heat up, keeping pool safety and drowning prevention in mind can help make beating the heat fun and healthy for the whole family.