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article image300 U.S. children drown in pools annually, safety a must

By Cynthia Trowbridge     Jul 12, 2008 in Health
Every year 300 children under the age of five drown in a residential swimming pool.
Have you taken every precaution that you can to ensure the safety of your pool?
The numbers aren't as huge as other accidental deaths. But each child that drowns is a heart-breaker for the family and friends. A little boy only two years old found dead in a swimming pool or the 17-month-old boy that was found drowned in his family's swimming pool. Deaths that possibly could have been prevented and the family will possibly never get over it.
There are around 300 children who are 5 or younger that drown every year in a swimming pool and there are more than 3,000 who are injured in near-drowning in swimming pools. In 2002-2004 the average was 267 a year according to a new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The peak months are from May through August as both public and private pools are open and attract kids. Since home pools and spas have become so common the leading cause of accidental deaths in children between the ages of 1 to 4 is drowning.
According to Dr. Ronny Otero, associate research director for emergency medicine at Henry Ford Hospital said, "Fortunately, Michigan does not see many of these child drowning. Most of what we see is parents bringing in children who have had a near-drowning experience at home. They bring the child in to make sure they're all right."
According to federal statistics most children who drowned in a residential pool were last seen inside a house and were out of sight of a parent who was caring for them for less than five minutes.
Otero said, "That's why I always tell parents they have to exercise extreme vigilance. "It only takes a minute for a child to be in the water and lose consciousness. ... If you're talking on the phone or playing cards, you won't hear them, and in 3 to 5 minutes, the kid can be dead."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission and other experts recommend these steps:
Children can drown or suffer severe neurological damage from oxygen deprivation in the time it takes you to answer the phone, so you have to keep an eye on them constantly.
Securing the pool
You MUST make sure the child can't get to the pool! That demands a gate, fence or other barrier. The federal government recommends it be at least 4 feet high and have no footholds or handholds that could help a toddler climb over it. For more barrier tips, go to www.cpsc.govcqnl and search "swimming pools."
• For aboveground pools, the ladder should be locked or removed when the pool's not in use.
• Wading pools should be emptied after each use and stored or at least turned over.
Pool maintenance
Inspect pools and spas for missing or broken drain covers, and don't let kids swim if they need repairs. Inserting an arm or leg into the opening can result in powerful suction and total body submersion.
Flotation devices
In pools or on boats never use a floatation device as a substitute for a real life jacket. "Those floaty things aren't made for that," Otero said.
Searching for kids
If your child goes missing, ALWAYS search the pool first. Precious time can be lost looking in the yard, house or neighborhood.
Emergency preparations
Keep emergency numbers by the phone. Have rescue equipment near the pool. Learn CPR. Babysitters and other caretakers should know it, too.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
There are 300 children under the age of 5 who die from drowning in a swimming pool every year.
There are 5,000 children age 14 and under who are treated in emergency rooms for pool-submersion injuries every year. Of those about 15% die and 20% suffer permanent disability.
75% of the dead or injured children were between the ages of 1 and 3 years.
75% of the children who did drown their deaths were because of a lapse in adult supervision.
90% of the parents said that they were closely supervising the child.
65% of the injuries were in a family-owned pool.
33% of the pool related injuries occurred at the pool of a friend or relative.
19% Of all child drownings occur in public pools with certified lifeguards present.
77% of the children were missing for 5 minutes or less before they were discovered in the water.
69% of those children were not thought to be in or near a pool before they disappeared.
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