Swimming and Water Accidents Involving Children: Facts, Figures and Statistics
The CDC reports that there are on average nearly 10 drowning accidents occurring every day. More than one in four fatal drowning accidents involve children ages 14 and younger. For every child who drowns, there are at least 4 others who visit the emergency room for nonfatal submersion injuries. Nonfatal drowning injuries can be catastrophic and can cause permanent brain damage, including problems with learning and memory, and the permanent loss of brain function.
Children under the age of 5 are at the greatest risk of near drowning because their energy and curiosity can easily lead them to fall into bodies of water, including bathtubs or large buckets, from which they cannot escape. Among children ages 1 to 4 that die in accidents, nearly 30% do so through unintentional drowning. Fatal drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14. Children under 1 year of age most often drown in bathtubs, buckets or toilets. With children between the ages of 1 and 4, most drowning incidents occur in swimming pools. Most young children who drown in swimming pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight for less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.
There are certain risk factors that exist for fatal and nonfatal drowning accidents. A major risk factor is the absence of pool barriers; another is the absence of parental supervision. Most pool accidents involving children occur within minutes after the child is last seen alive. Many pool incidents occur because the child has easy access to the water. Drowning incidents that occur in natural settings like lakes, rivers, and oceans increase with the childs age.
Parents can take certain steps to minimize the risk of a drowning incident. The most important step is to provide adequate adult supervision. Parents should keep their children in view at all times when the child is around water. While supervising children, a parent should also avoid engaging in distracting activities, like reading, watching television, playing cards, doing yard work, etc. Barriers should be erected around swimming pools or other large bodies of water. A child should not be allowed to physically access the water without an adults assistance. Parents should also teach their children to swim. Introducing small children to the water through swimming lessons is an extremely good idea. Do not let children use improper inflatable devices without direct supervision. Toys like "water wings," "noodles," and "inner-tubes" are not designed to keep swimmers safe. Also, these toys can give a child a false sense of security thereby encouraging the child to take greater risks (e.g., venturing out into deeper water, etc.).
Christopher M. Davis is a Seattle attorney focusing personal injury cases. He is also known as a child accident lawyer and has written the the book Little Kids, Big Accidents as a resource for parents of injured children. To learn more about Mr. Davis visit: http://www.InjuryTrialLawyer.com.