According to a January 16, 2012 article on the Medical News Today website, recent reports that fewer children are becoming the victims of drowning. The improved statistics are noted to be due to “public information campaigns and drives for fencing around private swimming pools, use of proper life vests as well as other provisions, such as ‘safe’ swim areas in beaches and parks that are patrolled and monitored by life guards.”
Declining Drowning Incidents
The figures were published in Pediatrics, the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The statistics show that drowning numbers have been declining over the last sixteen years. Compared to 1993 figures (3,700), only about half the number of children (1,800), ages 19 and under, were hospitalized in 2008 due to drowning incidents. These decreases were primarily found in the southern and western states.
The article noted, “Researchers estimated that the number of kids who died after being hospitalized dropped from approximately 359 in 1993 to 207 in 2008.” However, this does not take into account those that were declared dead prior to arriving at the hospital. Also not covered in the statistics was any information about long-term brain damage or cognitive problems in those that had drowned but were rescued and hospitalized.
Positive Change and Growing Awareness
Along with education and public awareness, other positive changes are tied to improved technology and safety standards. For example, the article also stated that “parents are more likely to find full life vests for their children in their local supermarket, than they might have been ten, twenty years ago. It’s also becoming less common to find children that never learned to swim and parents that are ignorant of drowning risks, which could in part be attributed to the Internet and the information age that we now live in.”
No Time for Complacency
What often happens when good news is released like this is that people begin to let their guard down. However, a doctor quoted in the article stated that this was no time to become complacent and let children play on their own next to or in a swimming pool. He said, “While this study shows that we’re making really good progress, especially in the western and southern regions of our country, we have some sobering data still that drowning remains one of the leading causes of death among children … We have still a lot of work to do.”
Every day, I see both residences and commercial properties with swimming pools and spas where the dangers of drowning still lurk. There are many things that parents need to keep doing or make sure they do to not have their children become a drowning statistic. These are rules I apply in my own home with my own pool so as to protect my sons:
- Never leave children alone around a river, lake, ocean, swimming pool, spa, bathtub or anywhere with a significant amount of water.
- Install pool fencing around the perimeter of a swimming pool and spa.
- Use other security devices, such as window or door alarms.
- Have life-saving devices near the pool like a hook and safety ring.
- Post signage and get trained in CPR.
- Teach your children to swim properly.
- Hire a licensed lifeguard if having a swim party.
Be sure to have both proactive and reactive strategies in place.
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