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Child Drowning Prevention: Pools and Spas

Thursday, June 07, 2018By By Richard Alexander and Nina Shapirshteyn

We know this is tough topic, but as safety lawyers we saw the recent press release from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the statistics will get your attention, even if you “know” you would never let a child get close to drowning. Although the number of reported child-drownings has remained nearly the same over the past few years, fatal and non-fatal child incidents in pools and spas continue to pose a public health risk to children across the U.S. Parents, families and caregivers are being urged to remain vigilant when children are in and around pools this summer. Pool safety is critically important for reducing the number of preventable tragedies that happen involving pools and spas each year.

The Stats on Child Drownings in Pools and Spas

  • From 2015 to 2017, 73 percent of hospital emergency room-treated non-fatal drowning injuries involved children younger than five.
  • Male children younger than 15 had twice as many fatal drownings as female children of the same age in 2015.
  • On average in 2015, there were 351 reported fatal drownings in pools and spas involving children younger than 15.
  • 76 percent of those children were under the age of five.
  • Between 2015 and 2017, residential locations made up 74 percent of reported fatal drowning incidents.

The CPSC has a variety of resources and tips for parents, caregivers and pool and spa owners. Parents and caregivers are reminded to never leave a child unattended in or near water. Children should also be taught how to swim and to always stay away from drains. Pools and spas should always have compliant drain covers. Additionally, pools and spas should have proper barriers, covers and alarms on and around them. It’s also critically important to learn how to perform CPR on children and adults. Lastly, if lights in pools or spas or out or flicker, you may have a short and very low voltage can disrupt a heart. We have seen it happen.

Pool owners a responsibility to ensure any children in the area are safe from drowning. This means they should have proper fences, gates and barriers, and that children should always be supervised while near or in the pool.

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