We aren’t even in the thick of summer yet but a surge in Southern California swimming pool accidents involving drowning and near drowning in the region has Southern California officials very concerned. According to a news report in The Press-Enterprise, Riverside County is on track to have more children drown this year than in 2008. Four boys, all under the age of 5, have drowned so far, in backyard pools, according to the Riverside County Department of Public Health. During 2008, seven children drowned across the county while in 2007 there were nine drowning incidents.
Officials also say that near-drowning incidents are increasing. Just on a recent Sunday, Riverside County had three near-drowning incidents and San Bernardino County had two. Local authorities are extremely worried because they are seeing this spate of swimming pool accidents even before the official start of summer.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for children younger than 5 in California. More than 80 percent of drowning and near drowning occur in backyard swimming pools, often because of a very brief period of inattention or lack of supervision. This year, officials are seeing some “new twists.” In two cases, children escaped into the swimming pool through dog doors. In other cases, children fell into murky, unmaintained pools in occupied homes.
These incidents show children are far more creative in finding their way out to the pool or a hot tub than ever before and adults should never underestimate this ability in them. If they want to find a way into the pool, they will! And as parents, grandparents and caregivers, we need to be two steps ahead of them. In such cases, lack of attention –however brief — can be fatal and tragic. Drowning, almost always, occur silently and without anyone noticing. A child can lose consciousness in a minute and can suffer brain damage in less than four minutes.
Another cause for concern is swimming pools that lack safety features such as fencing or locked gates. There are apparently more than a million pools in California without safety features and these drowning and near-drowning indicate the need for multiple layers of security around a backyard swimming pool. Examples of such features include alarms on doors and windows, pool covers and self-closing, self-latching gates.
Also remember that if a child you have been babysitting or caring for, falls in your pool, you could be held liable, The same is true for children or guests who visit your home for a pool party or a get together. If you are hosting a swimming pool party this summer, please make sure that you have all safety features in place and that you have a lifeguard to make sure everyone is safe as they are having a good time. Please stay safe around the water and have a wonderful summer! For more swimming pool safety