The number of reported fatal child drownings in swimming pools involving children younger than 5—the most vulnerable population—has decreased 17 percent nationwide since 2010, according to a report released last month by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Despite the decrease, fatal and non-fatal child drownings in pools and spas continue to pose a public health challenge across the United States. In national and local media interviews conducted last month, CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle urged families to be vigilant when children are in and around the water this summer.
“Despite the positive decline in numbers, there are still far too many children who drown each year in pools and spas across the country,” said Acting Chairman Buerkle. “Swimming should be fun and a great way for families to be active, so long as everyone knows how to pool safely. As a mother, grandmother and registered nurse, I raised my kids, and now my grandkids, with a respect for water. Constant supervision, along with four-sided fencing, knowing how to perform CPR and teaching children how to swim are all important steps to continuing the decline in child drownings.”
CPSC’s latest data shows there were 346 reported fatal child drownings in pools and spas in 2014 involving children younger than 15, compared to 397 reported fatal drownings in 2010—a 13 percent decrease. Of the 346 reported fatal child drownings in 2014, 252 involved children younger than 5. This is a 17 percent decline when compared to 302 fatal drownings involving children younger than 5 in 2010. Other key findings include:
- Between 2012 and 2014, the majority (77 percent) of reported fatal drowning victims younger than 15 were younger than 5 of which two-thirds (66 percent) were male.
- For children younger than 15 years old, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of the reported fatal drowning victims were boys.
- For 2014 through 2016, an estimated average of 5,900 children younger than 15 years old were reported as being treated in hospital emergency rooms for non-fatal drowning injuries in pools or spas.
- Between 2014 and 2016, the majority (74 percent) of children treated in emergency departments for pool- or spa-related, non-fatal drowning injuries were younger than 5 years of age.
- Between 2014 and 2016, residential locations made up 86 percent of fatal reported incidents and at least 55 percent of non-fatal reported drowning incidents for children younger than 5.
Note: CPSC’s report addresses non-fatal drownings for the period from 2014 through 2016 and fatal drownings for the period from 2012 through 2014, reflecting a lag in the reporting of fatal drowning statistics.
In addition, the CPSC also released an updated report on suction entrapment incidents in swimming pools, spas and whirlpool bathtubs. Key findings include:
- From 2012 through 2016, there were 17 victims of entrapment in 16 incidents, with 82 percent of the incidents involving children younger than 15 years of age (14 victims).
- From those 16 incidents, there were two fatalities, both in residential spas.
- Since the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety went into effect in Dec. 2008, there have been no drain entrapment-related deaths involving children in public pools and spas.
The complete report can be found at PoolSafely.gov.
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