From 2010 to 2012, there were an average of 400 deaths among children 15 and under in the United States as a result of unintentional drowning. African American children ages five to 19 are at the greatest risk of drowning, and children ages one to three are the most likely to die due to drowning. Victims of fatal drowning incidents are under aged five in 75 percent of cases.
To try to reduce the dangers associated with swimming pools and spas, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act) was signed into law in December of 2007 and went into effect in December of 2008. The Act established standards and requirements for drain covers to avoid entrapment and mandated the installation of a second anti-entrapment system on all public swimming pools and spas. The goal was to prevent drowning deaths because of kids getting stuck in swimming pool drains.
Swimming pool drains are just one of many risk factors in swimming pools. Drownings could also occur because of broken pool ladders and equipment, slippery pool tiles, and diving accidents in pools too shallow to dive into. In some cases, drownings simply occur because a child too young to swim falls into an unattended swimming pool or gets into a pool unnoticed by an adult. In Florida, the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act requires pool owners to secure their pools to prevent access to children but property owners do not always comply and kids accidentally get into pools anyway.
Preventing Drowning Accidents in Orlando
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has established a Pool Safely outreach and education effort designed to prevent injuries due to entrapment and drowning. Ten tips are provided to help reduce the risk of injuries around swimming pools and spas:
- Make sure you and your kids know how to swim.
- Ensure a fence at least four-feet tall is installed around a pool perimeter and use self-closing and self-locking latches so you can never forget to close up the pool area.
- Watch kids carefully around pools and spas and do not leave them unattended at all.
- Designate a Water Watcher who will be responsible for providing supervision to kids and who will not use a phone or otherwise become distracted while watching kids (adults can take turns).
- Always check swimming pool and spa areas immediately if children are missing.
- Keep children away from openings like pipes and pool drains so they do not become trapped.
- Only use public pools in compliance with the P&SS Act.
- Learn CPR skills and update the skills regularly. Know how to perform CPR on both kids and adults.
- Make sure a lockable safety cover is installed and used if you have a home spa.
- Have life-saving equipment like flotation devices easily accessible around bodies of water.
By following these basic safety guidelines, children and adults can be protected from drownings. Summer is an especially high risk time and since Memorial Day weekend of this year, 86 fatal drownings of kids have already occurred. Taking steps to avoid any additional tragedies this year is vitally important.