According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 350 children under age 5 drown in pools each year in the United States. Indeed, drowning is the second leading cause of death for this age group. Another 2,600 children receive emergency room treatment.
severe brain damage can require initial hospital stays over 120 days and cost $150,000.
The CPSC conducted a thorough study of drownings of children under five in Arizona, California and Florida. These findings have national implications:
- Seventy-five percent of victims were between the ages of 1 and 3 and 65% were boys. Toddlers are at risk because they act unexpectedly.
- Adults were supervising most victims with 46% of victims last seen in the home, 23% last seen in the yard or patio and 31% near the pool before drowning.
- Sixty-five percent of drownings occurred at a pool owned by the child’s family and a third at a pool owned by friends or relatives.
- Drownings occur in the time it takes to answer a telephone and 77% of victims were missing from sight for no more than five minutes.
- There is no noise or splashing to alert adults.
These devices are necessary:
- Install a fence or other barrier, at least 4 feet high, completely around the pool.
- If the house is adjacent to the pool, install an alarm on doors to the pool or a power safety cover over the pool.
- Fence gates must be self-closing and self-latching.
- Steps and ladders to above-ground pools need to be locked and secure when the pool is not being used.
- Comply with New York state legal requirements on fences, alarms and other security devices for pools, hot tubs, and spas.
Enforce these rules:
- Babysitters must constantly supervise children and know how to use protective devices such as door alarms and latches.
- Adults should always watch children.
- Swimming lessons and flotation devices do not substitute for supervision.
- During social events, appoint a watcher to supervise children and take turns being a watcher.
- Seconds count. If a child is missing, check the pool by going to the edge of the pools and scan its bottom and surface and the entire pool area.
- Learn CPR.
- Keep and maintain rescue devices at poolside along with a telephone with emergency numbers.
- Remove toys from around the pool when it is not being used.
- Do not prop open the pool barrier gate.
Pool owners have certain responsibilities to minimize the risk of a child drowning. Attorneys can help families seek compensation if someone’ else’s negligence caused the drowning. They can assist them with filing a timely lawsuit.