Child drownings up in AZ and U.S. for January

Keeping an eye on children around water is key to preventing drowning. Maricopa County is seeing an uptick in child drownings this January compared with last January. [Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia]
 By Cecilia Chan

Independent Newsmedia

A 3-year-old Tolleson boy has become a tragic statistic as the first drowning victim in Maricopa County for 2018.

Officials said the boy fell into a backyard pool on Jan. 14. He was rushed to the hospital where he eventually died.

To date, four fatal drownings, two children and two adults, have occurred in Maricopa County, a 300 percent spike from the same time last year. Nationwide, new data shows more than a 230 percent increase in fatal child pool drownings in January 2018 compared with January 2017, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“We don’t know the exact reason why there’s a 230-percent increase in fatal child pool drownings,” said Nikki Fleming, commission spokeswoman. “What we do know is these specific drownings are in pools and spas and we know for a fact they are particular to children, ages 0 to 14.”

In January 2017,three child drownings were reported in the nation compared with seven, including the one in Arizona, all in pools or spas for January 2018, according to Ms. Fleming.She said the warmer than normal winter temperatures in Arizona may be a culprit in sending people earlier to pools or spas.

“We do have these states called the Sunbelt states that do have the highest numbers (in child drowning),” Ms. Flemming said. “It could definitely do with the fact with people having access to pools and spas, which could be more readily available because it’s warmer longer than the rest of the country.”

According to Arizona Department of Health Services, drowning is the third most common cause of unintentional injury-related deaths with the group at the highest risk being children aged 1 to 4 years old.

The department’s annual report showed 110 people died from drowning in Arizona in 2016, the latest available data. Of that number, 20 were in the age group 0 to 14 and 10 were in the age group 15 to 19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports one in five people who die from drowning in the country are children 14 and younger and for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

Additionally, more than half of the drowning victims treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for further care, according to the CDC.

Nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning.

The key to prevent child drowning is adult supervision, Ms. Flemming said

.“An important point about drowning is it’s not as portrayed in Hollywood movies,” she said. “A child is not necessarily flailing their arms, yelling and splashing. It can occur quickly and quietly. Never leave a child unintended in a pool, spa or near bodies of water.“I think it’s important to not only know safety tips but implement them in your lives, taking these simple tips truly save lives.”


Safety tips:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch children closely around all bodies of water.
  • Designate a Water Watcher to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person should not be reading, using a smart phone or be otherwise distracted. •Learn how to swim, and teach children how to swim.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults. •Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Ensure any pool and spa being used has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards, and if uncertain, ask pool service provider about safe drain covers and ask public pool operators if drains are “VGB compliant.”
  • Take the Pool Safely Pledge before spending time in or near the water.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

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