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Grim Statistics On Child Drownings

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

  • 350 children under the age of five drown in pools each year nationwide.

  • The majority of the deaths occur in June, July and August; most in backyard pools.

  • Among unintentional injuries, drowning is the second leading cause of death to this age group after motor vehicle accidents. In some Sunbelt states such as California, Florida and Arizona, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death to children under five.

  • Another 2,600 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for near-drowning incidents. Some of these submersion accidents result in permanent brain damage.

  • Medical costs for submersion victims during the initial hospitalization alone can be quite high. Costs can range from an estimated $2,000 for a victim who recovers fully to $80,000 for a victim with severe brain damage. Some severely brain damaged victims have initial hospital stays in excess of 120 days and expenses in excess of $150,000.

In a comprehensive study of drowning and submersion incidents involving children under 5 years old in Arizona, California, and Florida, the CPSC found that:

  • Most were young. Three quarters (75%) of the submersion victims were between 1 and 3 years old; More than half (65%) of this group were boys. Toddlers, in particular, often do something unexpected because their capabilities change daily.

  • Most were being watched by parents. At the time of the incidents, most victims were being supervised by one or both parents. Almost half (46%) of the victims were last seen in the house; one quarter (23%) were last seen in the yard or on the porch or patio; and 31% were in or around the pool before the accident. In all, 69% of the children were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water.

  • Most happen in familiar surroundings. Submersion incidents involving children usually happen in familiar surroundings. 65% of the incidents happened in a pool owned by the child's family and a third of the incidents happened in a pool owned by friends or relatives.

  • Most accidents happen quickly. Pool submersions involving children happen quickly. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone. More than 3 out of 4 of the victims (77%) had been missing from sight for 5 minutes or less.

  • Seconds count. Survival depends on rescuing the child quickly and restarting the breathing process, even while the child is still in the water. Seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.

  • A silent killer. Child drowning is a silent death. There's no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.

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