A 3-year-old girl is in critical condition after nearly drowning in a backyard swimming pool accident the evening of March 16, 2013. According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the incident occurred at a home in the 11500 block of Bonham Avenue in Pacoima. The girl’s mother told officials that the child had been “out of sight only a few minutes.” She was found face down in the mostly empty pool in two feet of putrid storm water that had gotten into the pool. The mother was able to pull her daughter out of the water before rescuers arrived. She was transported in critical condition to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
Young Children and Drowning Dangers
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2009, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, more than 30 percent died from drowning. Among children ages 1 to 4, most drowning and near drowning incidents occur in home swimming pools. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children in that age group than any other cause except birth defects. Among children between the ages of 1 and 14, fatal drowning remains the second leading cause of injury-related death behind car crashes. Near-drowning incidents can result in brain damage because oxygen to the brain is cut off when a person is submerged.
Keeping Children Safe
Based on this news report, the girl’s mother says her daughter was out of sight for barely a few minutes. Unfortunately, a few seconds is all that is takes for a child to slip underwater and drown. There are several steps parents can take to keep their young children safe around swimming pools:
• Supervise, supervise, supervise. Do not let your children out of sight. Even a quick phone call or turning around to talk to someone can have devastating consequences.
• Install four-sided fencing that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet high, have self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward and have latches that are out of reach for children.
• Consider putting in additional barriers or layers of protection such as automatic door locks and alarms to prevent access or alert you if someone enters the pool area.
• Clear the pool and deck of toys. Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding areas immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the area unsupervised.
With spring and summer just around the corner, there is still time to take these important safety measures to keep not only your loved ones, but also visitors to your home safe. Remember, if a swimming pool accident occurs on your property, you could be held liable for any injuries or damages caused.