Drowning Occurs Quickly & Quietly – Take Precautions When In and Near Water

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Provided by the Prince William County Department of Fire & Rescue

It’s that time of year when children and adults head to the pool or spa to relax and cool off as the heat and humidity begin to rise. Yet each year, water-related injuries and deaths occur in the U.S. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ten people die from unintentional drowning, every day; ranking drowning fifth among leading causes of unintentional injury deaths in the U.S. Among those fatal statistics, one in five are children, 14 years and younger, and for every child that drowns another five receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries which can lead to severe brain damage resulting in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities and a permanent vegetative state.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional deaths for children younger than 5 and the second leading cause of death for children 5 – 14 years of age. From 2012 – 2014, a yearly average of 5,400 pool- or spa-related hospital emergency treated submersion injuries occurred; 364 were fatal involving children under the age of 15, including 279 younger than 5. (A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 4 and under.) According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, reports of fatal submersions involving younger children often occur when adults are present attributing the drowning to a lapse of adult supervision.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day 2014, approximately 174 incidents of children between the ages of 1 and 14 drowned in a swimming pool or spa in the U.S. Of those children, 112 were younger than the age of 5. People assume when a person is drowning they’ll be able to hear them or know when they’re in trouble and drowning, but on the contrary, drowning is swift and silent. Someone struggling to stay afloat and breathe is often unable to wave their arms or call for help; therefore, they drown in silence without attracting attention.

Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue (www.pwcgov.org/fire) urge the community to be vigilant in preventing injuries and drownings by taking the following precautions when you and your loved ones are in and around water:

 NEVER leave a child unsupervised near a pool, spa, bathtub, toilet, water-filled bucket, pond or any standing body of water for even a second!

 ALWAYS designate a responsible adult to be the “Water Watcher” of young children while in and around water. The designated adult should not be involved in other distracting activities, i.e. answering the phone, playing games, etc.

o Of all preschoolers who drowned:

 75% are missing from sight for five minutes or less.

 69% are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the


 10% were adults other than the parents.

 14% were sitters.

 7% were siblings.

 Install a four-sided, 5-foot fence gate that is self-closing and self-latching (latches should be above a child’s reach). The fence should surround any pool or spa with openings no more than 4 inches wide to prevent children from squeezing through the spaces.

 DO NOT use flotation devices, i.e. air-filled or foam toys, noodles or inner tubes in place of life jackets/pfds (personal flotation devices). Many flotation devices are considered as toys and not designed to keep swimmers safe. balls and floats from around or in a pool.

 DO NOT allow children to play in and around the pool or spa area. Remove all toys,

 Learn to swim

o Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children 1 – 4 years of age.

 Avoid swimming after dark and in muddy waters of lakes, ponds and rivers.

 Regardless of one’s swimming ability, size of the boat or distance to be traveled, require all persons to wear U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejackets/personal flotation devices (pfds) when boating or involved in water-related recreational activities. the depth. Diving into shallow water can cause spinal injuries.

 DO NOT dive into above-ground pools, shallow water or water where you don’t know

 ALWAYS swim and/or boat with a buddy and select areas with lifeguards.

 Avoid alcohol consumption or use of other drugs while supervising children during

 Check the local weather conditions prior to engaging in recreational water activities.

 Learn CPR! It saves lives.

Individuals can reduce even eliminate water-related injuries and deaths by simply changing their behavior. Hence, before heading to the park, beach or local neighborhood pool, implement safety measures that will protect you and your loved ones when in or near water. recreational water activities or participating in recreational water activities.


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