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Pool Safety: Drownings of Children Under Five Increase

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 30-May-2008

Children splashing and playing, backyard pools, bright sunny days. These are some of the telltale signs of summer. However, a new report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that scenarios such as these can create dangerous conditions for young children. Commission Chairman Nancy Nord cautions parents and caregivers must be vigilant in situations involving young children and bodies of water. The Wall Street Journal published an article outlining steps parents and pool-owners can take to ensure children are safe.

Between 2003-2005, the average annual number of child drownings increased to 283, compared with 267 in 2002-2004. The cause of the increase is uncertain, but the article reports many consumer advocates blame the increased number of large and relatively cheap inflatable pools. Such pools are sold even at neighborhood grocery stores, and Donald Mays, senior director of product safety and technical public policy at Consumers Union, urges consumers not to purchase these pools without taking the necessary safety measures. Along those lines, Carvin DiGiovanni, senior director, technical and standards, of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, urges consumers to ensure such pools conform with local codes.

"Adults always say, ‘This would never happen to me.’ But somehow [my son] just slipped into the pool unnoticed in front of a large group on a bright sunny afternoon. By the time we noticed, it was too late," Stew Leonard, Jr., owner of the supermarket chain bearing his name, recounts the day he lost his two-year old son. Mr. Leonard’s "Stewie the Duck" book and CD series educate children on pool safety, the proceeds of which go to the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation.

Fast Facts:

  • 283: Number of drowning deaths involving children younger than five in pools and spas between 2003-2005
  • 1-2 years: Age of majority of children deaths
  • 15 million: Number of residential in-ground and above-ground pools, hot tubs and commercial pools in 2007, up from 12.5 million in 2002
  • 12/19/2008: Date by which all public pools and spas must have safety drain covers and, for some, anti-entrapment system, as mandated by the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
  • 74: Number of reported incidents between 1999-2007 involving entrapment, all but one involved children age 14 or younger
  • 1-4 years: Age group whose leading cause of unintentional death is drowning
  • No. 1 Defense: Parental supervision, according to Mr. Mays

For previous relevant blog postings, see Pool Drowning-Preventable Tragedies.

For information about your legal rights, please click here or call the law firm of Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at 202-759-6699.

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