Pool Safety Campaign Launched by CPSC to Prevent Child Drownings

As the warmer summer months’ approach, federal safety officials have launched an annual Pool Safely campaign, which is designed to educate parents and caregivers about necessary and precautionary measures that can be taken to help avoid hundreds of child drownings that occur each year nationwide. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced its Pool Safely campaign this month, indicating that it will focus on water safety initiatives that could save over 300 lives annually, focusing on supervision of children under the age of five, which statistically are the group most at risk of drowning.

Previous efforts appear to have made some progress, according to a CPSC report on drowning statistics issued on May 23. The data indicates that fatal child drownings have dropped significantly over the years, due to safety initiatives and awareness campaigns. However, still far too many children drown each year at home or public pools, said CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle.

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According to the data reviewed by CPSC researchers, there were 346 reported fatal child drownings in pools and spas in 2014 involving children under the age of 15, representing a 13 percent decrease when compared to the 397 fatal drownings recorded in 2010.

Researchers have found that children under the age of five are the most vulnerable and susceptible to be involved in fatal pool drownings, either from inability to swim, lack of supervision, or lack of proper flotation and safety devices. Of the 346 reported fatal child drownings in 2014, children under the age of five disproportionately represented 252 of the fatalities. However, 2014 data still showed a 17 percent decrease in fatal pool drowning when compared to the 302 fatalities recorded in 2010.

Additional statistics recorded by the CPSC researchers included that 77 percent of the fatal drownings recorded involved children under the age of 15, with more than two-thirds of those drowning victims being boys.

In addition to fatalities, the CPSC indicates there is an average of 5,900 children younger than 15 being treated at emergency rooms annually for non-fatal drowning injuries in pools or spas. Researchers found that children under the age of five disproportionately represented the majority of injuries, accounting for 74 percent of all non-fatal drowning injuries.

The CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign encourages parents and caregivers to take proper precautions when children are around pools, spas, or any type of water source. For those with pools at home, the CPSC recommends installing a four-sided fence with a self-closing gate around the entire pool or spa to prevent young children from entering the area and accidentally falling in and drowning.

Other suggestions from the agency include:

  • Designate a Water Watcher to supervise children at all times around the water. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone or be otherwise distracted.
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapment.
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards and if you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safe drain covers.

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