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Highest drowning risk: Kids under 5

A new federal safety report shows toddlers and minority children make up a disproportionate number of drowning victims.

By Mitch Lipka May 24, 2013 5:32PM
With the Memorial Day weekend marking the beginning of the summer season and pool covers coming off nationwide, the federal government released a stark report showing the vast majority of drowning victims in pools and spas are under the age of 5. The study also concluded that minority children are at a far greater risk of drowning.

Swimming pool (© Corbis)Children under 5 account for more than three-quarters of the deaths, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said. Just those between the ages of 1 and 3 represented more than two-thirds of the fatalities, the government found.

On average in the past three years, 390 children under the age of 15 (296 under 5) drown each year, the CPSC found. Another 5,100 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms (4,000 under 5) for injuries suffered due to being submerged.

The overwhelming majority of deaths (85%) of those under 5 occurred in pools at homes. However, about half the injuries to children happened at residential pools, the CPSC said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said an African American child between the ages of 5 and 19 is six times more likely to drown in a pool than a white or Hispanic child of the same age. The government noted that, according to USA Swimming, about 70% of African American children can't swim.

"Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 and 4, and minority children drown in pools at an alarming rate," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said.

The government used the release of the report to promote its pool safety program, called Pool Safely, and help focus attention on the most at risk of drowning. The goal is to get more children to learn how to swim and to get pool owners and parents to be more responsible.

"The lives of countless children can be saved this summer," Tenenbaum said. "Take simple safety steps today -- teach all children to swim, put a fence around all pools, and always watch children in and around the water."

Children should not be able to access a pool when adults are not there to supervise them, the CPSC said. The agency suggests pool owners consider the following questions to determine if they have done what they need to do to make their pools as safe as possible:
  • Is there a fence around the perimeter of your pool or spa?
  • Are there self-closing and self-latching gates?
  • Are there door, gate or pool alarms in use?
  • Does your pool have anti-entrapment drain covers that are compliant with the P&SS Act?
  • Are all pool and spa covers in working order?
  • Has the public pool or spa you use been inspected to ensure it is compliant with federal, state and local laws?
  • Has someone in the family received training in CPR, first aid and emergency response?
  • Has everyone learned to swim?
The American Red Cross offers Learn to Swim classes at locations across the country. You can find a list of the classes closest to you on its website.

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May 27, 2013 1:08PM
I live here in an apt in Columbus,ohio  there was a kid who died here in a lake trying to walk over the ice I believe he was around five and he was with his older brother .No matter what you tell kids they often don't listen there curious same as some adults I say this to say there is no other answer than teach your kids watch them , coach them with positive reinforcement and if you don't have time and don't feel like you can be everywhere don't have more children than you can ultimately supervise because the job to watch them is yours.
May 27, 2013 10:19PM
You don't bring kids to a pool or a beach and then spend your time tweeting or facebooking or keeping up with the latest celebrity news,  or anything else that takes your attention away from the kids.  Didn't anybody get the memo that kids have to be taught how to swim, and respect the water, and know their limits?  Obviously not, if the statistics show what they do here. 
May 28, 2013 12:10AM

A little girl not far from my home fell in the river and drowned. She was found yesterday and her 2 year birthday was today. By the way, she was white. Dying inside for the loss of that innocent baby that died while the mother put up a tent and she wandered away. Pretty sad to have to live with that.



May 27, 2013 11:24AM

Alex not sure what any of that, has to do with children dying in pools...?


You should have done what I did....Retired from Military, after 2 years and being drafted; Worked out pretty well and was a better choice for me and us...

I too am a Disabled Vet...Mostly A/O and other maladies...

I guess I didn't realize that your VA monies, came off of the regular Mil. Pension.?

It helps us along with SS to pay the bills, but the price to get it, isn't always cheap.

We are comfortable...

Hope you had a nice M.Day weekend and good luck in your future endeavors.

I thought I would try it out for awhile. It was better than being drafted in 1967. After 24 years, I decided I didn't like it, anymore. Light bulbs started going off when I was told that I need to get the opinions of my subordinates, before I made a major decision. Ya, take vote. That wasn't the military I signed up for $98 @ month (no BAQ - E1-E3 were not authorized to live off base or get married). Things got better in 1971, with a huge pay raise to $431 @ month (as an E-4). I retired with 59% of base pay. Ahhhh, that would be base on my $23,600 @ year as a Senior Chief Petty Officer (E-8). Yes, that would be about $1,200 @ month, after taxes. (yes, $13,000 a year). Of course, when I registered with the VA, they gave me 30% disability. Ya, 30% tax free. Ya, they gave it to me. They also deducted the exact amount from my Navy retirement. So, basically, I am paying for my own disability. With the skills I obtained in the Navy, such as job, education, maturity, leadership, etc, etc., I spent the last 20 years doing the same type of job for the U.S. State Department and retired from there, about a year ago. Trust me,  when I say, joining the military in 1967 and staying for 24 years had nothing to do with money. Family separations are a killer. I understand those that get deployed for a year at a time. Hell, I was away more than I was home. Cost me a marriage. Yes. it was for GOD and Country, that I served and not the benies that I might reap after 20. I now sit back, reminiscing over those lonely days at sea, foreign ports (like the little stint on that river boat in Vietnam), with a smile on my face, just waiting for the grim reaper to come calling. That sucker had better be at least a Master Chief.
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