Drowning injury

Howard Robert Roitman

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Older children are more likely to drown while swimming

Every year, drowning accounts for at least 500,000 deaths worldwide, including approximately 4000 fatalities in the United States. Children less than 4 years old are most likely to die in drowning incidents, usually in bathtubs or after falling into water. Older children are more likely to drown while swimming, according to research cited in the study, with the risk rising in warmer regions of the South and West that have longer swimming seasons.


At the pool or beach, injuries aren't the first thing on our minds

We all want to keep our children safe and secure and help them live to their full potential. Knowing how to prevent leading causes of child injury, like drowning, is a step toward this goal. When most of us are enjoying time at the pool or beach, injuries aren't the first thing on our minds. Yet, drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning. Thankfully, parents can play a key role in protecting the children they love from drowning.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet

In 2007, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging ten deaths per day. An additional 496 people died from drowning and other causes in boating-related incidents. ...Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, April 2011 Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14 years  more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children ages 14 and younger.


Southern Nevada Health District

According to the Southern Nevada Health District, a submersion incident is used to describe both fatal and nonfatal drown- ing events. In 2005, the CDC reported that, nationally, there were just over 3,500 fatal unintentional drownings. This averages to approximately ten deaths per day. About a quarter of fatal drowning victims are children 0 -14 years of age. For every one child who dies from drowning, four receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. A nonfatal drowning can result in no impairment, some impairment, or significant impairment. It is estimated that 20 percent of hospitalized nonfatal drowning victims suffer severe, permanent neurologic disability that includes memory problems, learning disabili- ties, and permanent loss of basic functioning.


Prevention Strategies

Prevention Strategies The most common drowning victim is a young child aged 4 years old or younger. Most drowning fatalities happen in the fam- ily pool, with 70% of the incidents occurring mid-afternoon to early evening (2:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.). Lack of child supervision around swimming pools is a major risk factor for sub- mersion incidents in Nevada. The designation of a responsible adult to watch young chil- dren in or around water (e.g., bathtubs, pools, lakes, etc.) can prevent these tragic events. Adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (e.g., phone calls, reading, watching television, etc.) while supervising children in a swimming pool.


Submersion incidents

Another important prevention strategy for submersion incidents is the concept of 'layers of protection' which refers to the installation and proper use of barriers around swimming pools. The use of barriers such as perimeter and isolation fences, self-closing and self- latching fence gates, alarmed entrances to pools, and spa and pool safety covers which support the weight of an adult delay a child's access to the pool. Layers of protection allow more time for supervising adults to intervene in a submersion incident.


Prevention Strategies 2

Never leave a child alone near any body of water in which a child's nose and mouth can be submerged. o Never use floaties or other inflatable toys as life jackets or substitutes for adult supervision. o Never consider children to be 'drown- proof' despite swimming skills, previous swimming lessons or experience.


Toys may encourage children to enter the pool area

Install a four-sided, isolation pool fence that completely separates the house and play area of the yard from the pool area. The fence should be at least four feet high. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are high up enough to be out of the reach of children. Also, consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks or alarms to prevent access or notify you if someone enters the pool area. o Swimming pool gated must be closed and must never be propped open. o Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immedi- ately after use. The presence of these toys may encourage children to enter the pool area or lean over the pool and potentially fall in.


Most people have a false belief that pools are safe

Most people have a false belief that pools are safe unless someone is engaging in horseplay, misuse of the pool, or swimming while intoxicated, etc. While these activites certainly create a hazardous risk, most accidental drowning cases occur when the pool is not being actively used.


Landowners have been held liable for a child's injuries

Landowners have been held liable for a child's injuries because of the absence or inadequacy of supervision in the use of or access to the swimming pool. For example, the mother of a 2 year-old girl was able to recover for inadequate supervision when her daughter drowned in a neighbor's pool. The mother left her child to play with the neighbor's child in the neighbor's yard. The yard had a swimming pool and various playground equipment. After the children had been in the yard about half an hour, the neighbor announced that she was going to visit a friend and instructed the children to not go near the pool. Upon her return, approximately 30 minutes later, she found the daughter's body floating in the pool. -


Other Situations Where Liability Has Been Established

safety equipment is poor or nonexistent warnings of risk are inadequate depth markings in swimming pools are absent or not readable equipment is improperly placed or installed pool is accessible to children pool lacks safety cover pool lacks safety fencing or alarm systems supervision lapsed Liable Parties Can Include: recreational equipment manufacturers swimming pool and component manufacturers swimming pool retailers, distributors and installers property owners hotels and apartment owners municipalities schools supervisory personnel resort owners private club employees youth or infant caretakers Defective swimming pool drains, unfenced swimming pools, and inadequately monitored water rides can be extremely dangerous causing serious personal injury


About ten people die from unintentional drowning on any given day

According to the CDC, about ten people die from unintentional drowning on any given day, and an additional 347 people die from boating accidents each year. Surprisingly, nearly 80% of those fatalities are males. The top risk factors affecting water accidents include inadequate swimming ability, failure to wear life jackets, seizures, lack of barriers, alcohol consumption, and lack of close supervision.


A drowning accident can occur in only minutes

A drowning accident can occur in only minutes. Operators of businesses like hotels, schools, private home owners, and others with pools accessible to others are typically required to take measures to provide security for people who are not authorized to use the pools without supervision.


Reasonable care to prevent injury to a child

If the property owner fails to use reasonable care to prevent injury to a child, a trespassing child is likely liable . The attractive nuisance doctrine will apply to a residential swimming pool or artificial body of water if they are constructed in a way that makes it a trap. The attractive nuisance doctrine apples when an unusual element of danger that exists, The fact that the sides of a pool are vertical does not create an unusual element of danger as to constitute an attractive nuisance.

Additional Resources

Howard Roitman 8921 W. Sahara Ave. Las Vegas, NV (702) 647-8550

Drowning Safety, Baby's Las Vegas Nevada, Injury Lawyer, Research

UNLV, School of Community Health Sciences


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