WASHINGTON – As summer approaches, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is urging families to make water safety a priority — especially for children ages 5-14 — as they return to pools and summer camps.
Thursday, the agency released recent data showing that fatal child drownings and nonfatal drowning injuries in children under the age of 15 years old remain high.
According to the CPSC, child drowning continues to be the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1-4 years old.
The agency’s data from 2017-19 shows there was an annual average of 389 pool or spa-related fatal drownings involving children younger than 15 years old. A 17% spike in hospital department-treated, nonfatal drowning injuries from 2020-21 in this age group was also reported.
The CPSC said that of all reported pool or spa-related fatal child drownings, 73% involved children younger than 5 years old.
Chris Martin said his son, Gunner, 2, drowned back in 2016 and because of that, he’s working to become a Seminole County Firefighter to enforce more pool safety so that families don’t have to deal with what he went through.
“I did everything I could, as far as my limited knowledge that I had at the time with my CPR try to bring him back, but when they took over, I was really able to see what they do and their training behind it,” Martin said.
Seminole County Fire Rescue gathered Thursday to prepare bags that have all information that can help parents keep their children safe in the water. The bags have information in English and Spanish and families can grab them for free at any Seminole County Fire station.
“There are so many different things that these parents don’t know about or understand, and we want them to know,” Martin said.
Jennifer Peacock, an advocate who also lost her son to a child drowning, explained to News 6 the “Five to Survive” rules parents can use.
“Get into lessons, get a pool fence with a self-closing gate, those two things besides parental supervision are the most helpful and it would be helpful to learn CPR,” Peacock said.
From 2019-21, the CPSC reported that an average of 80% of children treated in emergency departments for nonfatal drowning injuries were younger than 5 years old.
Officials said child drowning is not just a problem in Florida but across the country.
“One of the things we know can prevent drowning up to 88% is enrolling in swim lessons and knowing how to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics updated our guidelines a couple of years ago to encourage families to enroll in swim lessons as young as 1 year of age,” Gina Jacobs Thomas with Goldfish Swim School said.
Data also showed that 73% of nonfatal incidents in children under the age of 5 years old which led to emergency rooms occurred at a residence, compared to a nearly 27% that happened in a public location.
“Whether a child is playing in a community pool, a neighbor’s pool, or your own, we urge parents and caregivers to prepare their children for water-related activities by reviewing Pool Safely tips and signing up for swim lessons this summer,” CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a statement. “Working together, we can help reduce pool- and spa-related fatalities.”